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: 01.04.2002

Court proceedings on 6 march 2002

The Trial

Overview of the trial:

4.3. 9:15: Charges read and the accused examined.

6.3. 9:15: Examination of 2 uniformed officers and an employee of Balkan Air all of whom were present at Schwechat Airport.

7.3. 9:15: Examination of pilot and crew of Balkan Air machine.

11.3. 9:15: Examination of a number of passengers and the doctor from Sofia who certified that Marcus Omofuma was dead.

13.3. Examination of the accused officers' superiors and ex- Minister of the Interior [Home Secretary] Löschnak

14.3. Examinaton of ex-Minister of the Interior [Home Secretary] Einem.

18.3. Examination of ex-Minister of the Interior [Home Secretary] Schlögl

8.4. Examination of two passengers from the Netherlands.

10.4. Examination of first medical expert.

11.4 Examination of second medical expert.

15.4. Examination of third medical expert.

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

Report from the Trial - Part 2

The second day of the trial saw the examination of the first witnesses - the policemen from Schwechat Airport who were involved in the deportation of Marcus Omofuma and the branch manager of Balkan Air, Ivan K.

- Witness 1: Border Policeman Alfred D.
- Witness 2: Police Officer Oskar G.
- Witness 3: Gerhard P of the Special Unit Kranich
- Witness 4: Ivan K., branch manager, Balkan Air

Location: District Court of Korneuburg near Wien, Hauptplatz 1 (Reachable by S3 train from Vienna - timetable obtainable from the ÖBB)

Those present: Judge Fiala, a second judge, 2 lay judges, 2 substitute lay judges, Public Prosecutor, assistent to Dr. Zanger, Mr. Rifaat and Mr. Ofner for the defence, accused Josef B., R., K.; the witnesses: Alfred D. (Border Police, Schwechat), Oskar G. (Police Officer, Schwechat), Gerhard P. (Federal Police, Schwechat, Airport Squad Kranich)

1. Witness: Alfred D. (Border Police/Schwechat)

Alfred D. travelled in the front part of the bus, which took Omofuma from the gate to the aeroplane. At the gate Omofuma began to 'make a racket,' he was yelling. Officers of the special squad "Kranich" who were accompanying the transport took action. He was not able to give details but only to state that afterwards Omofuma had foot chains around his legs at about knee height. His arms were bound to his body, presumably with adhesive tape. His mouth was taped with sticking plaster. From then on he could 'only growl.' Omofuma was able to 'blow' the tape off his mouth and/or 'bite through it.' Some more tape was put over his mouth. Without being asked the witness said that at no time was there a danger of suffocation. His nose was always free and the tape on his mouth was at least the width of a finger from his nostrils. " I saw that quite distinctly." The yells were yells of protest and no howls of pain. When the chairman of the court asked whether it did not strike him as strange that a person tied up like a parcel was carried onto the aircraft, the witness answered. "It's not very nice, but I didn't know what instructions the officers had since they were responsible to the Ministry of the Interior [Home Secretary]. And further: "Since it had nothing to do with me I thought nothing more about it, each of us does his duty." In addition witness D was of the opinion that taping the mouth was the minimum force necessary to prevent the resisting and noisy deportee from being a threat to himself and others. The witness repeatedly pointed out that the nose was free of obstruction. The officers exerted an exemplary calming influence on Omofuma. Even when Omofuma resisted and butted around with his head, the officers remained calm. Generally speaking the witness was of the opinion that up till the Omofuma case, the taping of deportees' mouths had never led to impairment of health. Marcus Omofuma never had difficulty breathing. He did not know if one of the accused had had contact with K, the branch manager of Balkan Air in Vienna. In any case K had looked into the vehicle and saw Omofuma. He did not say that there was anything wrong. In answer to a question from the advocate of the Omofuma family the witness answered that when the officers left the vehicle with Omofuma no one was injured. Mr.Rifaat (defence) asked about the conduct of the 3 accused towards Omofuma in the VIP lounge. For example, the request made to Omofuma to remove his jacket was complied with immediately.

2nd witness: : Oskar G. (police officer stationed at Schwechat)

As pertinent to the present case, G's area of responsibility was coordinating 'problem deportations,' liason with the airlines and making arrangements with the special squad 'Kranich.' Omofuma was carried into the aircraft with the help of 'Kranich' officers. Without being asked the witness stated a number of times that this did not result in any maltreatment of the prisoner.

After questioning in May of 1999, G. made a statement to the effect that a leather belt had been used to restrain the prisoner, something contradicted by other witnesses, including the accused.

As with the previous witness G. made repeated references to the 'nose taping' in which he stated that the nostrils were always free. " Nobody does that, taping the nose as well," runs the very biased comment. As with the previous witnesses G. referred to his superiors or more accurately, those of the accused - " I don't know what orders they got from their superiors - it might have included the order to use an adhesive tape." G. stated that he had received an information fax to the effect that this was the third attempt to deport Omofuma. (This is demonstrably false.)

3rd Witness: Gerhard P. (Federal Police Station in Schwechat)

In 1999 P. was in the "Kranich" Squad. This was the unit, which accompanied the deportees (and the officers who were accompanying them on the flight) from the airport building to the aircraft. The witness emphasised that Omofuma acted extremely aggressively. He shouted and was a danger to himself and others. " I had never seen resistance like that before and I hope I never do again. It was not normal." The cries were not expressing pain, but aggression. In the vehicle he heard one of the accused say a sentence with the word 'biting' in it. He could not say anything more specific. He did not see Omofuma bite anyone from where he was sitting (he sat directly behind him), simply movements that suggested it. The witness agreed with the argument that the pilot is responsible for deciding what actions are necessary. Omofuma had been quiet as he was carried on board the aircraft. He did not know the branch manager K. He was not able to say whether one of the accused had contact with him (K). Advocate for the Omofuma family asked whether it was possible to communicate with Marcus Omofuma given the way in which he was tied up. The witness did not answer. In answer to the question as to whether it might not have been better to think of breaking off the deportation considering just how roughly the process had been the witness said, "That is not my responsibility. The officers( i.e. the three accused) or the pilot are responsible for that." The defence, Mr. Rifaat, asked if there appeared to be any difficulty in breathing. The witness answered in the negative. "The first rule for us is that the deportee must not even get a scratch otherwise the deportation has to be broken off. Then he would have won." Mr. Ofner for the defence stated that the state would be incapable of carrying out deportations if the officers carrying them out had no strategy with which to counter the attempts by the prisoners to prevent the deportation. He remarked that the deportees sometimes used strong laxatives to prevent the deportation. "Enterprise" of this nature must be decisively counteracted.

4th Witness: Ivan K (Branch Manager of Balkan Air at Vienna Airport)

The witness was responsible for taking the passenger list on board. According to K.,once or twice a month there had been problem deportations carried out with his airline. The witness pointed to his job description. "I did my job." In answer to a question as to whether he had given an order that the prisoner not be allowed to shout out, K answered that he had not heard Omofuma shouting. He gave no 'instruction' in that direction (the three accused would not, in any case, have been bound by it since K is not their superior). Contrary to the unanimous testimony of the three accused, K stated that he never saw Omofuma. At the gate he had just seen his outline in the vehicle from some distance away. He did not look into the vehicle. "No, I didn't see him for even a second." Mr. Ofner, asking suggestive questions, got the witness to agree that the responsibility lay with the captain of the aircraft. K. stated that he did not request the prisoner to be bound because that was the responsibility of the Austrian authorities. According to testimony from a stewardess and the co-pilot, K. passed on information as to Omofuma's condition. He denied this. Mr. Ofner, with further suggestive questions got K. to agree to the following statement, "If the deportee is refractory the officers have to do everything in their power to prevent any danger to the passengers," and in addition, "within the limits set by the captain - he sets the limits." The methods to achieve those ends are not his (K's) problem. Mr Ofner's line of argument did not hold long, however. When he asked the witness what happens if a deportee goes on the rampage or is in some way dangerously disruptive K. answered that in such a case the aircraft would have to turn back or not take off in the first place.