BERLIN — German police say a British man’s arrest at Munich airport for failing to pay a fine probably saved his life.

The 39-year-old, who wasn’t identified, was arrested as he arrived from London Tuesday evening. Police said Wednesday a judge in Osnabrueck had fined the Ghanaian-born 500 euros ($600) for bodily harm in August 2015, and prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him a year later after he failed to pay.

The man complained of heart pain after his arrest, and a doctor declared him unfit for jail and sent him to a hospital. Police say that doctors there discovered an “apparently very rare and very serious disease,” and say the patient likely wouldn’t have lived long without an operation he is now awaiting.

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