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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 17:34 GMT
Paris police suspended after Somali's death
Security forces at Paris's Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport
Police say deportees are becoming increasingly violent
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has suspended three police officers after the death of a Somali man they were told to deport last week.

The three had the 24-year-old illegal immigrant man in custody at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport on Thursday.

He lost consciousness while they were escorting him to be deported and died in hospital on Saturday, the police service said.

The man... had been feigning illnesses and put up a struggle

Bobigny district prosecutor's office
Few details of the death have been given but the police service stressed that the officers' suspension did not imply any wrongdoing.

The process was simply part of the investigation into the man's death, it said.

Concern has risen in recent weeks over the treatment of deportees by police in Paris.

The man who died on Saturday, Mariame Getu Hagos, was refused admission to France when he arrived on a flight from Johannesburg on 11 January. He was scheduled to be deported to South Africa.

He had refused to board a plane on several occasions before Thursday, Le Monde newspaper reported, quoting a press release by the Bobigny district prosecutor's office.

"The police officers employed force with regard to the man who had been feigning illnesses and put up a struggle," the paper quoted the release as saying.

Brutality claims

The death of the Somali man was the second involving a deportee in less than a month.

There have been other allegations of police brutality in Paris:

  • On 30 December, a 52-year-old Argentine man died of a heart attack as he was being put aboard a plane at Charles de Gaulle airport for deportation.

  • The same day, a Malian TV crew filmed four French officers pinning down a Malian illegal immigrant on a plane out of Paris; the police seized the crew's film and detained the camera crew.

  • Last Friday, two police officers were suspended after breaking the nose of a witness who had threatened to report them for violently manhandling a handcuffed suspect in a Paris street.
One French human rights group, Droits devant! (Rights First), has called on the state airline, Air France, to refuse to carry deportees as long as police continue "committing barbaric acts with impunity".

But police have pointed out that officers "are more and more often confronted by violent resistance".

A statement by the Central Board of the National Police on Tuesday said that officers had to handle 3,000 refusals to board planes in 2002 alone.

See also:

12 Nov 02 | Europe
10 Jan 03 | Europe
23 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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