Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland

A Swiss appeals trial has begun of six police officers acquitted over the death in custody of a Nigerian man, Mike Ben Peter Amadasun, which has drawn comparisons to George Floyd’s killing in the United States.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Renens, in western Switzerland on Monday, July 1, 2024, to show support for the family of the deceased.

The protesters raised a large, black banner with the words “No justice, no peace” written in white letters.

The 39-year-old died following a violent arrest after he refused a police drug search in Lausanne in early 2018.

In the encounter, involving six police officers, he was pinned to the ground, on his stomach, his family’s lawyer Simon Ntah said prior to the initial trial.

The defendants were acquitted during their original court hearing last year.

In June 2023, after four days of a sensational trial, the Lausanne Criminal Court ruled that the six officers who carried out the test could not be convicted of negligent homicide, following a decision by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The judges referred in particular to the forensic expertise, which was not able to state with certainty that Mike Ben Peter had died because of police intervention or the method of restraining him.

The court of first instance therefore concluded that the cardio-respiratory arrest had occurred independently of the victim’s position, adding that the causes of death were“multifactorial” and that there were no“causal links” between the police intervention and the death of the Nigerian.

The Court also concluded that the police officers had not breached their duty of care. On this point, it departed from the prosecution, which had considered that the police officers had kept the victim on her stomach for too long.

Conversely, according to the lawyer for the victim’s family, the police officers used disproportionate violence. The lawyer had already mentioned several times that he would go as far as the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

This original acquittal led to virulent reactions.

“Shame”, “It’s too easy”, people in the Renens courtroom shouted, while boos and slogans hostile to the police were then chanted outside. from the court, where some 100 people had gathered.

Mike Ben Peter’s widow and his brother were applauded as they left the court. “This is not fair at all. I want to get justice for my husband. I am a lioness and will not give up,” she said.

Several sympathisers then invaded the court hall to shout their anger, a scene rarely seen in Switzerland.

The commander of the Lausanne municipal police Olivier Botteron, present in the audience, decided to turn back after leaving the court.

Judges, lawyers, police officers who had been warned and some accompanying persons also left through the back.

The slogans lasted at least 45 minutes before calm returned. The demonstration ended in a silent “sit-in”.

The appeal trial will continue until Wednesday, July 3.

The verdict will be delivered a week later, on the afternoon of July 8.

Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland
Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland
Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland
Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland
Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland
Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland
Appeals trial opens over death of Nigerian man arrested by police in Switzerland

 

 

 

 

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