[ 22. Sep 1998 // letzte änderung: 03. Dec 2004 ]

Semira Adamu

Semira Adamu

* Nigerian asylum seeker
* Aged 20
* Died 22. September 1998, Belgium
* Official cause of death: asphyxiation


Case details: This was the sixth attempt to deport Semira Adamu from Belgium. In the early hours of the morning, eleven members of the gendarmerie"s National Airport Unit had taken her to Zaventem airport in an armoured unit. On board, as Adamu attempted to draw attention to herself by singing, officers used the so-called "cushion technique" to restrain her. One gendarme gripped her hands while the other one held her head down on the cushion, covering her nose and mouth for several minutes.

As it is normal practice to film "difficult deportations", the deportation was recorded on video. (There are claims that some parts of the video have since been doctored.) The video records the gendarmes cracking jokes while holding a cushion over Adamu"s face.

She fell into a coma, emergency services were called and she was transferred to hospital where she died of a brain haemorrhage.

Action taken: Interior minister Louis Tobback resigned after Semira Adamu"s death - in recognition of the fact that he was politically accountable for the misdeeds of the judiciary. A judicial inquiry, which was completed in February 2000, was launched and the Vermeersch Commission set up to evaluate instructions and techniques relating to forced deportations. In 2000, new guidelines were laid down, banning control and restraint methods that block breathing and the use of sedatives. But other methods of forced deportation that are equally dangerous are being put in place.

In 2000, Amnesty International criticised the Belgian authorities for failing to publish the results of its investigation into the death of Semira Adamu. The judicial investigation was closed by the investigating magistrate and a dossier sent to the Public Prosecutions office.

Prosecutions: In March 2002, a court ordered that the three escorting officers should stand trial for deliberately causing grievous bodily harm resulting, unintentionally, in death. Another two officers who had supervised the operation on board the plane were charged with committing the same offence through failure to take precautionary measures.

The three cops who killed Semira Adamu were sentenced on 12. Dez 2003 on a court in Brussles. The had to pay a fine and are put on a three year probation.