[ 06. Oct 2005 ]

Linz: Hunger-strike refugee died

A young detained African asylum seeker who had been on hunger strike since 28 Sep 2005 died on Tuesday, 04 Oct 2005 in his cell.


The man, whose asylum application had been rejected, was in detention awaiting deportation. Detained since 12 Sep 2005, he started with his hungerstrike on 28th of September 2005 to fight for freedom. He died about two hours after a medical check at a hospital.

Christian Grufeneder, a police officer in the Upper Austrian city of Linz, said that he become "aggressive" while a blood sample was taken. "Because he was on hunger strike, he received medical attention every day," Grufeneder said. "A human rights group also visited him."

Whether the man could have been so weakened by the hunger strike that it died, the police speaker did not want to judge. "He could go without strange assistance into the hospital and did not have to be supported on Tuesday morning."

The police told further, that the man kicked a nurse with his feet. He was taken back to the police holding centre and locked into a so called "safety cell" (Sicherungszelle).

The police told, that in the "safety cell" the situation was checked every 30 minutes. At 12:50 pm an officer found him unconscious and called an emergency physician. The reactivation of the lifeless body was unsuccessful. The doctor determined the man was dead. A post mortem sould be carried out on Wednesday (05 Oct 2005), Grufeneder said. Even if the prisoner was beaten before its death, that the autopsy to show, Grufeneder is convinced.

An abusing is not to be excluded. In the current report of the anti-torture committee of the Council of Europe (ECRE) explicitly the police in the city of Linz is listed in connection with flogs for suspicious ones specified. Exactly the same as the report of a thrust prisoner, who indicated, few weeks before attendance of the commission at hands and feet bound into a small single cell to have been put, because he had absorbed a battery. Quotation of the committee report: "the report of the on-duty official pointed out that, after he had been brought in the hospital the man was brought into a single cell, because he threatened suicide to commit and was aggressive."

Austrian law allows authorities to hold non-austrian citizens, for example asylum-seekers whose applications have been rejected, for up to six months (in a period of two years) to ensure the execution of a deportation. A new law, which will come into force in January 2006, allows the autorithies to arrest people up to ten months and also to apply forced feedings for hungerstrikers.