Amnesty demands justice for five men dead in French police custody

originally by: M&C News
published: November 2011

Human rights group Amnesty International called Wednesday for an independent investigation into the deaths of five men, all African or of African origin, at the hands of French police since 2004. In a report on the five cases, four of which involved Africans, and one a Frenchman of African origin, Amnesty denounced the ‘disproportionate use of force’ by the police, as well as their ‘tendency to more often stop foreigners and people of foreign origin.’

The report also pointed to a lack of impartiality in investigations into suspected cases of police brutality and the ‘reticence’ of prosecutors to pursue cases against the police. Only one of the five cases has led to police officers being charged.

One case involves a 69-year-old Algerian pensioner, Ali Ziri, who was stopped by police while driving in the Paris suburbs with a friend in June 2009. The two were taken to have their blood alcohol level tested at a police station.

An investigation by a independent commission, the CNDS, which oversaw police work until earlier this year, found that the men were left handcuffed on the ground, with their faces in their own vomit, for between 30 and 75 minutes. Ziri died in hospital the following day.

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