Germany: Police on trial over death of Sudanese asylum-seeker

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German police tried for Sudanese’s death
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 2, 2004

FRANKFURT (DPA) -- Three German border police officers went on trial in Frankfurt Monday accused of involuntary manslaughter over the death of a Sudanese asylum-seeker during his deportation.

The case comes almost five years after 30-year-old Aamir Ageeb was suffocated to death aboard a Lufthansa plane after it had taken off from Frankfurt airport.

The trial is being closely followed by human rights groups including Amnesty International who have criticized the delay in bringing the case to court.

The three officers, aged between 31 and 40, refused to make any statement at the opening of the trial. A defence lawyer told the court the men had no permission from their superiors to speak.

An interior ministry spokesman in Berlin denied this was the case.

Ageeb's death on 28 May 1999 triggered a debate on Germany's procedures for the deportation of refugees who have been refused asylum. Interior Minister Otto Schily suspended all deportations for four weeks while an inquiry was held.

The first day of the trial was expected to hear medical evidence of the cause of Ageeb's death.

Published medical reports have told how Ageeb was shackled by rope to his seat, his arms, hands, legs and feet tied with flex, plastic binding and Velcro strip, and a motorcycle helmet placed over his head which was pressed down during take-off.

Ageeb, who had arrived in Germany in 1994 as a refugee from Sudan's civil war, was pronounced dead shortly afterwards and he was taken off the plane making an unscheduled stop at Munich.

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