Courts clear police of charges for black deaths in custody

For anyone who followed the case of Oury Jalloh, who burnt to death in police custody in 2005 whilst being handcuffed to a fire-proof mattress, the judgment of 8 December by the Dessau-Roßlau court, which clears two police officers of, respectively, bodily harm resulting in death and negligence resulting in death, comes as no surprise (see Statewatch vol 18 no 3 on institutional racism that defined Jalloh's case from his arrest and death to the judgment). The judgment led to public unrest in the audience, in particular the black community, following the trial.

The Oury Jalloh Initiative had already withdrawn from the trial proceedings saying they were "farcical", as the court had presumed suicide before all the evidence had been presented. In fact, despite dozens of interrogated police officers, no consistent sequence of events could be determined by the court.

The asylum rights organisation Pro Asyl called for an international and independent experts commission to retry the case and criticised that the Oury Jalloh judgment, as well as another recent judgment from Bremen court that cleared the police of all charges of another black death in custody as a result of force-feeding emetics to Laya Alama Condé, suspected of having swlaaowed drugs. Pro Asyl states that these judgements prove that in Germany, "ignorance and professional incompetence indeed protect perpetration from punishment, if the victim is black."

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