"Break the Silence" campaigners rally in Dessau in January 2013 to commemorate the death of Oury Jalloh, who died in police custody in the eastern German town of Dessau on 7 January 2005. Campaigners believe that Oury Jalloh was murdered in police custody. Until today, the truth of what happened to Oury Jalloh is yet to be fully officially unearthed / Photo: Oury Jalloh Initiative

Oury Jalloh film wins German podcast award

A TV production about the death of the African Oury Jalloh in a Dessau police cell over 17 years ago has been awarded the German Podcast Prize 2021 for “Best Journalistic Performance”.

The production, by the public broadcaster WDR and entitled Oury Jalloh und die Toten des Polizeireviers Dessau (“Oury Jalloh and the dead of the Dessau police station”), received the podcast award last week alongside seven other productions.

The five-part feature series by author Margot Overath documents the arduous search for the truth about the death of Oury Jalloh in January 2005 and of two other Dessau residents.

In the case of Oury Jalloh, numerous expert opinions of how it happened are inconsistent with the official version and show that the African probably died as a result of police violence. Official investigations have repeatedly come to nothing or been discontinued.

Oury Jalloh / Photo: pa/obs/WDR

Ms Overath has followed the case for a decade, studied files, talked to witnesses, police officers, public prosecutors, fire experts, forensic doctors and criminologists. In the process, she “gained an oppressive picture”, according to the WDR podcast page. The research leads to a mixed situation: “Brutal police traditions ….. paired with open everyday racism and violent right-wing radicalism – played down by top administration and politics.”

The Sierra Leonean burnt to death mysteriously in police custody in the eastern German city on 7 January 2005 and until today, the circumstances of his death have not been fully cleared despite a sustained campaign for justice on the case.

According to a research conducted on the case by the ARD magazine “Monitor”, Oury Jalloh was probably killed. Citing investigation files, the TV programme reported that several experts came to that conclusion after various reports and fire tests show that the possibility that Jalloh set himself on fire was far less likely than that he was set on fire by other persons.

Felix Dappah

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