A German court has handed down a fine to a policeman found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of an asylum seeker. Oury Jalloh died of smoke inhalation in a prison cell after setting fire to his mattress.
Nearly eight years after the death of Oury Jalloh, the local policeman linked to his death received a verdict from a regional court in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt on Thursday. The judges fined the policeman, Andreas S., 10,800 euros ($14,114) for involuntary manslaughter of the asylum seeker from Sierra Leone.
On January 7, 2005, police in the Saxony-Anhalt city of Dessau took Jalloh into custody after he had allegedly harassed two women while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Jalloh later died in a holding cell from smoke inhalation after he had set fire to his own mattress.
Andreas S. should have kept a closer watch over Jalloh considering his state, according to the regional court in Magdeburg. The police officer did not respond to the fire alarm, claiming he thought it was a false alarm.
However, "he couldn't have rescued Jalloh," said the presiding judge, Claudia Methling before the court on Thursday.
A federal appeals tribunal had overturned Andreas S. acquittal by a Dessau court in 2010 due to considerable gaps in the chain of evidence. However, the regional court in Magdeburg reviewed the evidence and concluded that although investigators had made errors in the case, nothing had been destroyed on purpose. It also concluded that a third party did not cause the fire.
The fine levied on Thursday exceeded the original plea by the Public Prosecutor's Department, which had asked for 6,300 euros.
Jalloh's case has caused a controversy in both domestic and international media in the last eight years over the treatment of asylum seekers. Demonstrators gathered outside the Magdeburg court on Thursday to protest the verdict, insisting that Jalloh had been murdered.
Both parties, including Jalloh's family who are co-plaintiffs, now have a week to file an appeal with the federal court.
kms/hc (dpa, dapd, AFP)