A new medical report into the 2005 death of asylum-seeker Oury Jalloh found that his body sustained bone fractures before he was found burnt in a German prison cell.
Jalloh was a migrant from Sierra Leone whose charred body was found with his hands bound to a bed in the east German city of Dessau.
Police at the time claimed that Jalloh had killed himself by igniting his mattress with a lighter in his cell, where fire alarms failed to operate properly. Following national and international outcry, several inconclusive investigations were launched into the case.
In October medical professionals at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, commissioned by the family and supporters of Jalloh, examined images of the corpse and concluded that his body sustained significant violence before the body burned. The radiological report, however, could not confirm whether it was the cause of his death.
The report said that in addition to the fracture sustained to Jalloh’s nose — which was already known — there were fractures to his septum, rib and the base of his skull.
Doctors said that it was extremely unlikely that Jalloh could have inflicted these injuries onto himself with his hands bound, or that accidental injury, such as a fall, could have caused the damage.
Injuries inflicted ‘hours before death’
Scientists used forensic-radiological technology to pinpoint the nature of the injuries. The injuries were described as “clearly occurring” shortly before Jalloh’s death. How far they contributed to his death is unclear.
The Oury Jalloh Initiative has long campaigned for an investigation into alleged police violence they believe was the cause of Jalloh’s death. They tweeted that the new evidence shows that the evidence shows that Jalloh was “possibly already dead in his cell” when the fire broke out.
Earlier in October, a regional court in Naumburg in the state of Saxony-Anhalt dismissed this evidence as inadmissible in a fresh lawsuit brought by the initiative.
Jalloh, who fled from war in Sierra Leone, was imprisoned in 2005 for drug trafficking.
ed/stb (dpa, epd)