another violent death in the deportation class

(report this is based on coverage in le monde and liberation and from AFP)

08.Jan.03 - On the 30th of December 52 year old, Ricardo Barrientos died on flight AF 416 while he was being deported from France. The Argentinean, who was resisting his deportation, died when French border police officers who where accompanying him forced his chest on his knees while the plane was taxiing for take-off. He had been brought on board before the regular passengers and was placed in the rearmost section of the craft in an attempt to isolate him from the other passengers. The French border police claim his death is due to a cardiac arrest and considers it a 'natural death'.

Spokespeople of the national police have assured that the deportation which involved two officers forcing the deportees' upper body on his legs and his head between his knees while restraining his arms was carried out in accordance with 'normal procedures'. They further claimed that the accompanying officers alarmed medical emergency personnel when they discovered that Mr. Barrientos had fainted and that his death was attested by medical emergency personnel outside of the airplane.

This version is disputed by witness reports that have been received by the 'Association nationale d'assistance aux frontières pour les étrangers' (national association for assistance to foreigners at the borders). According to them the police officers carried the lifeless body of Mr. Barrientos to the front section of the plane where an doctor who had been alarmed by the cabin crew attested his death. Meanwhile the autopsy of the corpse has been ordered by a local court to investigate the cause of his death. Refugee support organizations contest the claim of a 'natural death', they rather see it as a consequence of the unnatural position into which the deportee was forced by the border police officers that were trying to break his resistance.

In an unrelated incident, that also took place at Charles de Gaulle airport on the same day, officers of the border police confiscated and erased a video tape of a television news crew from the west African state of Mali who had been filming the violent deportation of two persons on an Air France flight to Bamako.
According to AFP, the officers were roughly holding down the immigrants when they realized they were being recorded by a camera crew from Malian national television that happened to be accompanying Malian textile specialists on board. The two African journalists were quickly detained and their camera tape confiscated. A French student who allegedly insulted the officers was also arrested.
In a statement similar to the one issued in the case of the death of Mr Barrientos, a border police spokesperson claimed that the deportees were 'controlled normally according to techniques taught to police officers' and added that the tape had been confiscated and erased only because 'the officers were filmed without their permission'.
This description is disputed by members of the TV-crew: The reporter told the French news agency AFP that he had witnessed that "a handcuffed Malian was being beaten up and yelling. I told my cameraman to film the scene. Four French police officers got violent with us and made us leave the plane before confiscating the film of the scene."


[back to top]