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CRIME

Retrial for asylum-seeker death in Dessau jail begins

A retrial in the case of an asylum-seeker who burned to death six years ago in a Dessau jail began Wednesday. A 50-year-old police officer faces charges of bodily harm with fatal consequences.

Retrial for asylum-seeker death in Dessau jail begins
Photo: DPA

As the trial began, human rights activists lit candles and called out, “It was murder!”

On January 7, 2005, 23-year-old Oury Jalloh, an asylum-seeker from Sierra Leone, allegedly set fire to a mattress with a cigarette lighter while his hands and feet were shackled to a jail cell bed. State prosecutors said he could have been saved if police had acted fast enough to get him out of the cell.

The now 50-year-old senior officer and a colleague said they had tied Jalloh’s hands and feet because he had been violent after being arrested for drunkenly harassing women. When the fire alarm went off they allegedly turned it off several times before checking the jail cell.

But last January the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled that the December 2008 decision by the Dessau-Roßlau regional court to acquit the police officer was flawed.

The chain of events could not have happened as it was presented during the trial, the court ruled. Judges were unable to determine whether Jalloh set the fire himself, or how it would have been possible to do so, calling it a “substantial gap in the consideration of evidence.”

The Magdeburg regional court will now take up the case to determine whether the senior officer was at fault for Jalloh’s death, which sparked outrage among human rights activists in Germany.

A verdict is expected this summer.

DAPD/ka

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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