An online campaign has been launched for the retrial of the controversial death of Oury Jalloh. The Sierra Leonean refugee died in police custody in the eastern German city of Dessau on 7 January 2005. In different court proceedings, the police have always maintained that the African killed himself by setting on fire the mattress on which he was shackled.
The case took a new, dramatic turn in April when Folker Bittmann, a state prosecutor who for many years defended the police’s account of Jalloh’s death, changed his mind, arguing that a murder investigation should be opened into the case.
Nevertheless, federal prosecutors declined to open a new investigation and referred the case back to state prosecutors in Halle, who declared the case closed on 12 October on the grounds that there was “not sufficient real evidence for the participation of a third party in the fire”.
A group has now launched an online campaign for a new, fairer trial which should reveal the whole truth about what happened on the fateful night. According to Mouctar Ouldadah Bah of the Oury Jalloh Initiative, a group fighting for justice in the case, “New expert reports prove that Oury Jalloh did not put the fire in his cell!”
“The ARD programme Monitor has looked at the investigation files in more detail and concluded that without a flame accelerator or an external influence, Oury’s severe burns could not be explained. Nevertheless, the prosecutor wants to stop the proceedings!”
Experts on fire safety, medicine and chemistry all came to the conclusion that Jalloh’s death was more likely caused by someone else— contradicting the police’s claims that the 36-year-old killed himself, the investigative TV show had reported.
Bah added: “For years, I and many friends of Oury Jalloh, his family and numerous initiatives have been fighting for the recognition of the crime as torture and murder. The perpetrators must be convicted. It cannot be that the police involved get away without punishment!”
Many German Black and rights groups believe that the German state owes the family and friends of Oury Jalloh and other interested parties a new trial which should hopefully close the case for everyone.
The online campaign which is being implemented on the change.org platform is gathering signatures for a formal petition which will be presented to the public prosecution office in Dessau.
You can sign the petition at Mein Freund #OuryJalloh