Protesters in Dessau calling for the prosecution of the policemen they believe were responsible for the death of Oury Jalloh, January 2016 / Photo: Oury Jalloh Initiative

Oury Jalloh’s case goes to European Court of Justice

The case of the asylum seeker Oury Jalloh, who burnt to death in controversial circumstances in a police cell in Dessau in 2005, has gone the European Court of Human Rights. Recently, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court confirmed the closure of the investigation even though experts insist that the official version of the incident is “impossible” and Jalloh’s family accuses the police of murder


The family Oury Jalloh, who was burnt to death in a police cell in Dessau on 7 January 2005, is taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg court has already emphasised in similar cases that in the case of deaths in custody there is a duty on the part of the state to provide a comprehensible explanation of the circumstances of the death, the “Initiative Oury Jalloh” announced in Dessau-Roßlau on Monday.

The late Oury Jalloh, here with his new-born child in an undated photo, has become a rallying figure for the Black Lives Matter movement in Germany / © Private

Last Thursday, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected a constitutional complaint by Jalloh’s brother. The suspension of further investigations does not violate the Basic Law, the judges in Karlsruhe ruled. In particular, the Naumburg Public Prosecutor’s Office had thoroughly examined whether there might be further promising leads to an investigation beyond the current state of the investigation.

The death of the asylum seeker from Sierra Leone caused nationwide outrage at the time. A police officer was convicted in 2012 for failing to ensure that the man from Sierra Leone was properly supervised. In a 300-page investigation report, two special investigators found numerous mistakes made by the police and other authorities.

According to the official version of the authorities, the then 36-year-old is said to have set himself on fire on a fireproof mattress in the basement of the police station, with his hands and feet tied. Fire experts, medical experts and criminologists repeatedly stated that this was not possible.

With his constitutional complaint of November 2019, Oury Jalloh’s brother wanted the case to be investigated again but the Federal Constitutional Court refuse the application. With its decision, the Court made the “victim himself the perpetrator”, according to a statement by Jalloh’s family published on Monday. They accuse investigators of procrastination, manipulation and ignorance. With this decision, the Federal Constitutional Court has itself participated in the “systematic cover-up and procrastination of a blatantly racist crime”. It continues: “We can and will never accept these German conditions”.

Sola Jolaoso

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