Racism Kills
Every year many people are dying by the racist policy of Fortress Europe. Deaths during deportations are accepted conscious. Marcus Omofuma is not an isolated case....
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last update: 25.03.2002

Court proceedings on 7 March 2002

The trial

- The Evidence
- The stewardess
- The steward
- The engineer

The Trial in Overview:

4.3. 9:15: Reading of the Indictment and Questioning of the Accused,

6.3. 9:15 Questioning and cross-examination of the 2 uniformed officers and employees of Balkan Air who were witnesses at Schwechat Airport…

7.3. 9:15: Questioning and cross-examination of pilot and crew of Balkan Air plane.

11.3. 9:15: Questioning and cross examination of some of the passengers and the doctor who completed the certificate of death in Sofia.

13.3. Questioning and cross-examination of the police superiors and the ex-Minister of the Interior Löschnak

14.3. Questioning of ex-Minister of the Interior Einem

18.3. Questioning of ex-Minister of the Interior Schlögl

8.4. Questioning of two Dutch passengers.

10.4. Questioning of the first medical expert.

11.4. Questioning of second medical expert.

15.4. Questioning of third medical expert. Reading of the judgment.

Location: District Court of Korneuburg near Wien, Hauptplatz 1 Can be reached from Vienna with the S3 – timetable enquiries to ÖBB


Trial of the 3 Aliens Police officers ... or perhaps of Marcus Omofuma after all?

Report from the trial - Part 3

The following gave testimony: a stewardess, a steward and an aeronautics engineer.

The following were also present: Judge Fiala along with another judge; two jurors and two substitute jurors, the prosecuting attorney, Advocate Zanger representing Marcus Omofuma’s children and other dependents.

The trial began at 9.15 am

On the third day of the trial seven witnesses had been subpoenaed, all of whom were crew members of Balkan Air, the airline which carried out the deportation transport of Marcus Omofuma to Sofia on May 1st, 1999. Four of the witnesses who were supposed to appear failed to do so. One of those was the chief stewardess who had made the most detailed statement immediately after the incident which had caused Omofuma’s death. Her absence was excused for financial, professional, health and personal grounds. The trial was postponed till 1:15 pm, when the defendants advocates Messrs. Ofner and Rifaat requested a hearing of the testimony protocol.

In the afternoon 3 witnesses did appeared: a stewardess, a steward and the engineer employed by Balkan Air. Before the witnesses were heard, Judge Fiala took notice of the fact that a letter had been received from Professor Radanoy in Bulgaria, who informed the court that he would neither be attending the trial nor sending a substitute. Professor Radanoy Was the first expert after Marcus Omofuma’s death to assert that the cause of death was suffocation.

Advocate Ofner stated that testimony from officers of the court in countries such as Bulgaria do not carry as much weight as those from Austria.

The Evidence:

All of witnesses said that when they had been questioned by Bulgarian police they had spoken the truth as it appears in the statements from three years ago. They also said that they could not now remember very much. They all admitted that they had been informed by the station manager of Balkan Air Vienna and the chief stewardess that a deportation would take place. All of them stated that deportations were a normal part of their job but that they had to trust the police to avoid complications on the flights from Sofia to Vienna and Amsterdam and back. Time was important and the flights precisely planned. Any delays would entail added costs for the company.

The stewardess:

She was the first witness of the day and her evidence was the most detailed but it became obvious that she had not seen Omofuma get on board. The chief stewardess told her that the man was very angry and that it had been difficult to get him on board. The first time she saw Omofuma was when she checked the seat belts and began to serve drinks after about 35 minutes of the flight. She could identify him. He had been sitting in the second last row at the window with a policeman beside him and two behind him. His whole body had been taped including his mouth and his arms were taped to his body. She did not want to look in his eyes because she thought it might be provoking. After further questioning she said “it wasn’t a pretty picture.” She could not remember the colour of the adhesive tape. Replying to a question as to whether she had noticed that Omofuma was suffering, she stated that all the crew members just thought that he had tried to escape. Asked whether she had served Omofuma food she said, “ black Africans are said to be dangerous so often they don’t get any food. That’s very common.”

Judge: Who says this?
Witness: "It’s not a rule, but it’s said by experts who have experience in deportation matters. I have a certain experience too – for example Bulgarians being deported from Germany do get food.” She was often involved in deportations and sometimes people were in chains but she had never seen someone with a taped mouth before. She had been involved most frequently in deportations from Germany but also some from Austria and others from Sofia to Lagos. She also stated she had never seen a deportation where the person had been taped to the seat. She considered the process to be justified because the prisoner’s screaming could have frightened the other passengers – there were over 150 on board – and a children’s choir from Amsterdam had had to be moved for safety reasons. Omofuma’s had moved on his seat, but she could not remember if she heard screams because the plane was a twin-engined Tupolev which was very loud. She felt the responsibility lay with the policemen and stated that had she been captain she would not have carried out the deportation since the passengers had been shocked when Marcus was brought on board. She also said that the chief stewardess had told her that chaining was normal in deportation cases. After the landing in Sofia and when all the passengers had left the plane she saw that the police were still on board and it was then she saw that Marcus Omofuma was dead. She said she had interpreted Omofuma’s struggling as a bid for freedom rather than his fighting for his life. After take off he was quiet and she thought he had accepted his fate. She did not see a rope in the hands of any of the policemen. She thought Omofuma must have been very strong for there to be three policemen with him.

Advocate Ofner: May I interpret you there as suggesting you thought he was dangerous?
Witness: Yes, you can.

At the beginning of the flight two passengers were sitting in front of Omofuma, but after they complained they were moved to other seats and two employees of Balkan Air were put in their place. One of them hit Omofuma on the head.
Advocate Zanger: "Did you have information that he (Omofuma) was a criminal?" The stewardess replied that she didn’t care what he had done, the policemen were responsible for him and should know what they were doing.

The steward

The second witness, a steward, told the court he had seen that when Omofuma was carried from the police car to the aeroplane, one of his shoes was missing. The fact that he was being carried struck him as strange because it was unusual. The steward was responsible for the front part of the aircraft and because of that he didn’t see very much. He went to the back of the plane only once from personal interest. He also saw that Omofuma was taped all over and he noticed that the policemen next to him was holding the end of the adhesive tape which went round Omofuma’s head. The policemen behind him each held the end of a rope or tape which fastened Omofuma from behind. The steward though Omofuma was trying to escape. He did not see him again till they were in Sofia. He had never seen a person taped like that in his life before. Omofuma’s nose was not taped up. With regard to deportations in general the steward said, “ the number of policemen ensuring custody during a deportation varies. Sometimes ten officers are in charge of one person, and sometimes one officer is in charge of ten people.”

The engineer

The third witness, an engineer, could just remember that he made sure that the prisoner was not sitting at an emergency exit when he learned about the deportation. He did not regard it as anything special. He said, “We do not interfere in the deportation proceedings even if someone is tied up.”

The third day of trial ended at around 4:30 pm