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Press Release of the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh from December 19, 2008

Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh
Truth! Justice! Reparations!
Mobil: +49 (0)170-8788124

Press Release of the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh from December 19, 2008

On December 8, 2008, the District Court of Dessau acquitted the two accused police officers Andreas Schubert and Hans-Ulrich März. The Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh announces an INDEPENDENT COMMISSION to investigate the circumstances of Oury Jalloh's death and the systematic cover-up orchestrated by the police during the entire court proceedings. Once again, the legal system has demonstrated just how little interest it has not only in ensuring truth and justice in the case of Oury Jalloh but in all other cases of racist police brutality.

For many months the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh has denounced the trial as a farce and warned from exactly such a court decision.

Trial Ends in Acquittal
Berlin / Dessau December 19, 2008

Upon the termination of the trial in Dessau the police of Sachsen-Anhalt announced, "The police will continue with disciplinary proceedings to determine further consequences against the police officers in question." Yet it is clear that the evident lies, false testimonies and esprit de corps on the part of the police was primarily responsible for the failure of the trial itself. Even Judge Steinhoff is of this opinion.

As expected, both police officers on trial in the case of Oury Jalloh were acquitted. Neither the State Prosecutor nor the District Court of Dessau were capable of sentencing either of the accused police officers for negligence. When the parties in question, however, limit themselves to the most unlikely of all theoretical possibilities, i.e. that Oury Jalloh set himself on fire, when the court considers everything which happened prior to the outbreak of the fire to be irrelevant for the proceedings, when an entire police station participates in the cover-up and lies without being punished or even being required to provide sworn testimony, nothing more can be expected from the proceedings than that which Judge Steinhoff so accurately admitted: "This trial has been a failure."

Steinhoff described his own acquittal as, "simply an end that must be formal."

But the main farce of this entire affair is that there have been many pieces of evidence which have pointed to murder but which the court consequently excluded from the proceedings. Although the investigations were in fact extensive, from the very beginning the State Prosecutor and the District Court of Dessau limited themselves to one single line of investigation.

The outcome of the trial thus comes as no surprise. As the trial began it was already evident that the formal accusation launched by the State Prosecutor was insufficient in terms of uncovering the factual circumstances surrounding Oury Jalloh's death. At the very least the two police officers should have been accused of murder after the several reconstructions of the fire carried out by the fire department proved that a person chained down at his hands and feet like Oury Jalloh could not burn himself to death.

But Judge Steinhoff found himself between a rock and a hard spot. On December 8 Steinhoff could not pronounce an adequate sentence yet to prevent a major public outcry he also couldn't simply acquit the police officers.

A lighter which Oury Jalloh did not possess at the time of his detention is a lighter which can also not be overlooked. Likewise, a human being cannot be saved from the fire if it is assumed that the person has already died through physical abuse. The second autopsy done on Oury Jalloh determined that he had suffered a broken nose.

In order to prevent a possible revision, the court even went so far as to propose the cancellation of the trial and showed absolutely no shame in offering the family 5,000 euros to accept such an act.

"They, this police in their organization from top to bottom, is accused of the murder of Oury Jalloh. The evidence gathered during the trial merge together to form an overall picture: the police is guilty of what happened in Dessau."
(Wolf Dieter Narr, trial observer for the Committee for Civil Rights and Democracy)

"Just as are the State Prosecutor and the courts of Germany are guilty for the murder of Oury Jalloh and all other similar cases which until today have yet to be clarified."
(Mouctar Bah, Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh)

Because the District Court of Dessau refused to comprehensively investigate in all directions in order to determine the factual circumstances surrounding the death of Oury Jalloh, the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh has begun to work on the development of an independent commission. In this regards, a petition will be presented on January 7, 2009 at 12 p.m. at a press conference in Dessau.

Following the acquittal, human rights organizations, political parties and progressive groups have demanded the installation of an independent commission. We hereby demand that these organizations do everything within their power to see that such words now be put into practice.

For almost four years now the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh has organized actions in Dessau as well as in many other cities throughout Germany. For almost four years we have been forced to accept the direct intervention in our demonstrations of the very same police against whose violence and even murder we are protesting. Each time we are forced to deal with the targeted provocations of the police.

On December 8, 2008, the day of the acquittal, the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh suffered several attempts by the police to detain activists of the demonstration. On two separate occasions the police attempted to arrest Mb. Y., who had registered the demonstration, in order to prevent it from continuing. Nevertheless, this could be prevented through the resolve of the protestors. Thereafter Mb. Y. was ordered to leave the demonstration (a failure to do so is considered a crime in Germany).

We see such actions and provocations on the part of the police as an attempt to intimidate the activists and to deter them from continuing their struggle for truth and justice. Until today, four years later, these attempts have not proved successful. Nor will they in the future.

Almost four years after Oury Jalloh's bestial death in Cell No. 5 in Dessau and having been witness to a show trial we continue to maintain our denouncement:

Oury Jalloh - It was murder!

and demand:



We will not desist in our struggle until our demands have been met. As a result, the Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh hereby calls for a demonstration against racist police violence and show trials whose intention it is to cover up murder. The demonstration will take place on January 7, 2009, at 1 p.m. in Dessau.

Feel free to contact us if you require any further information.

Initiative in Gedenken an Oury Jalloh / c/o ARI / Colbestrasse 19 / 10247 Berlin / Tel: +49 (0)170 8788124

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