An Abridged History of Violence: Notable Cases of Abuse by the Austrian Police

May 1999
Markus Omofuma

The 25-year-old Nigerian suffocates after being bound and gagged by Austrian immigration police on a deportation flight to Sofia, Bulgaria, a procedure that investigations later reveal was common. The three police officers responsible receive suspended sentences for causing death through negligence. They are allowed to continue in service.

April/May 2000
Richard Ibekwe

A 26-year-old Nigerian dies on 2 May in police custody. Police arrested him three days before during a narcotics raid in the 17th District. While he officially died of an overdose, eyewitnesses at Ibekwe’s arrest claim police assaulted him. An investigation into police brutality is halted in February 2001 due to lack of evidence.

July 2003
Seibane Wague 

As the Mauritanian physics student suffers a mental breakdown in Vienna’s Stadtpark,  he is restrained and beaten by police for  causing a public disturbance. As Wague resists being restrained, emergency doctors inject him with a strong anti-psychotic. Wague dies during the incident, and video footage recorded by a bystander causes a public outcry. One police officer and emergency doctor ultimately receive suspended sentences for causing death through negligence, though both are allowed to continue in service.

August 2004
Edwin Ndupu 

The inmate at Lower Austria’s Krems/Stein prison officially dies from a fat embolism caused by self-inflicted injuries. The 38-year-old Nigerian allegedly threatened fellow inmates and prison guards with a knife. 15 wardens seize Ndupu to bring him under control. They bind his hands and feet and put him in solitary confinement. He continues to resist, requiring sedation. Ndupu never regains consciousness. Guards who came into contact with his HIV infected blood get a compensation payment of €2,000.

April 2006
Bakary J.

As the Gambian’s deportation flight is postponed, he is taken to a warehouse and badly abused by officers of the special forces unit WEGA, suffering a broken jaw and eye socket. After four years of disciplinary proceedings, two officers are dismissed from service. One of them receives the maximum fine: five times his monthly income.

Feb. 2009
Mike Brennan

The American teacher is assaulted by police in an underground station, suffering two fractured vertebrae. The officers claim they mistook him for a drug dealer they were tracking. One of them is convicted of grievous bodily harm, but his fine is reduced by the final court of appeal from €2,800 to €1,680. Both officers continue in service.

For more, see “History of Abuse” in April 2009 TVR.

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