Human rights organisations call for monitoring the Oury Jalloh trial at the Regional Court of Magdeburg and condemn the deployment of police against Mouctar Bah, recipient of the Carl von Ossietzky Medal, on 11th August 2011 in the Regional Court of Magdeburg

Berlin, 23nd of August 2011

Following the events on the 11th of August 2011 at the Regional Court in Magdeburg in the case of Oury Jalloh, an asylum seeker who burned to death, the National Ecumenical Consortium Asylum in Church, the International League for Human Rights, the National Consortium Church and Right-wing Extremism and the Committee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy very sharply criticise the rigid police treatment of some trial observers: „As organisations whose duty is to understand human rights, we hereby call for an unreserved and thorough explanation of what led Oury Jalloh to burn to death in police custody. We stand in solidarity with all of the activists of the Oury Jalloh Initiative and the Black community, whose work for such an explanation has been answered with harassment and repression.“

Mouctar Bah of the “Initiative in Remembrance of Oury Jalloh” describes the events on the 11th of August 2011:

“I asked: ‘where is Oury Jalloh’s body? How did the fire really start?’ After asking these questions I had to produce my identification. Then, I was suddenly dragged out of the courtroom and thrown to the floor. Police sat on my back, twisted my arms around violently and put handcuffs on me. Why? Why this brutality? I am saddened and furious that in a supposedly democratic state with due process it is not possible to search for the truth. There are still so many unanswered questions from throughout the trial. That is why we, the Initiative in Remembrance of Oury Jalloh e.V., call for an international and independent expert fire report and investigation. We want nothing but the truth.„

Pastor Fanny Dethloff, Chair of the National Ecumenical Consortium Asylum in Church further explains:

“Human rights medal recipient Mouctar Bah is worthy of utmost respect and esteem, since his initiative is the only appropriate reaction to the glaring injustice in our midst. His injury sustained during the last courtroom proceeding is a slap in the face for all of those who hold onto the democratic principles of our country and promote human rights.
There are violations of human rights among us also. The death of Oury Jalloh is a gaping wound to human rights – he was arrested six years ago, affixed to a fire-proof mattress in a monitored cell and, despite fire alarms, burned beyond recognition. This death found no adequate adjudication, no truth and no justice. Just the opposite: even now in the most recent court proceedings, the victim is being made into the perpetrator.
We need international help in the search for truth in this case and finally a politics that deals with failures in light of deep institutional racism. The cry for justice should not be allowed to die out because of grave errors of those in charge in Magdeburg."

Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin, President of the International League for Human Rights, summarises the trial observance to date with the following account:

“The Dessau Police and particularly those in charge of the Dessau-Rosslau police station are not participating in a full uncovering of what took place. It seems as though they have agreed that the accused, shift supervisor Andreas Sch., acted negligently on that day. Incidentally, the most frequent answers spoken in the courtroom – often supported by witness’ legal aides – are ‘I don’t know’, ‘I can’t remember’, ‘I don’t know anything about that’. The stoicism of the court and the public prosecutor – there are completely legal measures to ‘cure’ this overtly organised amnesia – are similarly hard to bear in this situation.
As in the trial of first instance in Dessau, the circumventions of a true explanation, the contradictions and the lies are scandalous. Important evidentiary sources – which the public prosecutor ostensibly attempted to seize at the time – such as the drivers’ logbook in which every patrol drive is entered or the electronic journal, in which every police deployment is logged, were thought for years to have disappeared, only to suddenly turn up again from out of nowhere. However, these contained unlawful deletions made by an unknown source. Entries concerning the exact day of Jalloh’s death and in the time just before the fire broke out have been erased, and the sequence of numbers logged is incomplete. Similarly, parts of the protocols of the interrogation taken by Stendal Police of those employed by the police station on the day of the event are lost, and the missing sections are from important witnesses for the prosecution. Hanging over everything is the completely insupportable claim that none of the questioned witnesses on duty that day heard Oury Jalloh screaming. How is it possible for someone to burn in silence?
To briefly mention the events of the 11th of August, 2011: during my sporadic observance of the trial in the Regional Court of Magdeburg I was given the impression that the court and, consequently, the police and security guards in the courtroom view the participation of the public at the trial as owing to the generous courtesy of the court rather than the right of citizens and the public. Thus, extreme gratitude and exemplary conduct are expected. It was made clear on the 11th of August that the upcoming trial dates will urgently require observation by the public.”

Next Trial Dates: 25.08.2011, 01.09.2011, 22.09.2011
Sessions begin at 9:30 at the Regional Court in Magdeburg, Courtroom A23

Verena Mittermaier,
Ökumenische BAG Asyl in der Kirche e.V.
Fon ++49 30 - 25 89 88 91

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