BERLIN • Calls are growing in Germany for the government to posthumously honour the Polish truck driver who is believed to have saved many lives during the Christmas market attack.
More than 33,000 people had signed an online petition at Change.org by yesterday afternoon, demanding that Mr Lukasz Urban be awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, the highest civilian honour, by German President Joachim Gauck.
Opposition Greens party lawmaker Omid Nouripour called on Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to honour Mr Urban with the national Order of Merit.
Police say Mr Urban was shot dead by the suspected attacker, Tunisian Anis Amri, shortly after the latter had ploughed Mr Urban's 40-tonne truck through a crowd of revellers at a Berlin Christmas market on Dec 19.
Twelve people were killed and dozens injured, but investigators believe Mr Urban prevented even more casualties by grabbing the steering wheel in a struggle with Amri and directing the truck back out of the crowd.
The Change.org petition said that "according to current reports, the autopsy shows that he struggled with the perpetrator and was severely injured and eventually killed by him".
Amri is believed to have overpowered Mr Urban in the hours before the attack, commandeering his lorry while holding him captive in the passenger seat, where the Polish driver was later found dead with a gunshot wound.
Amri was shot dead by Italian police four days later.