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Asylum seeker death ruling

September 4, 2014

A long-running German case involving the death of an asylum seeker in police custody is now over, after the country's top court upheld a 2012 ruling. Oury Jalloh died from smoke poisoning in a police cell in 2005.

BGH verhandelt über den Feuertod von Oury Jalloh
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/U. Deck

Germany's Federal Court of Justice on Thursday upheld a controversial manslaughter verdict in the 2005 death of asylum seeker Oury Jalloh.

The Sierra Leonean national died in January 2005 from smoke poisoning in a police cell, after having set fire to his mattress, in the eastern German city of Dessau.

Police had taken the 37-year-old Jalloh into custody after he allegedly harassed two women while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Two trials have since attempted to clear up the circumstances of his death.

In December 2012, a policeman, named by the German media only as Andreas S., was fined 10,800 euros ($14,500) after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The court said he should have kept a closer watch over Jalloh. The judges dismissed the possibility that anybody other than Jalloh could have started the fire.

Activists and politicians, including from Germany's Left Party, had called for fresh investigations over the way Jalloh's death was handled. In November 2013, campaigners claimed to be in possession of new expert opinion which refuted the previous version of events.

They believe Jalloh did not set fire to the mattress himself as his hands and feet were bound.

However Thursday's ruling by the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe confirms the previous findings, namely that Jalloh did set fire to the mattress. It also means the 2012 verdict and fine stands, and the case will not be reopened.

jr/bw (dpa, AFP, epd)

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