Switzerland: Protests Erupted As Appeal Court Upheld The Acquittal Of Six Police Officers Accused Of Causing The Death Of Nigerian Man During An Arrest

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Switzerland: Protests Erupted As Appeal Court Upheld The Acquittal Of Six Police Officers Accused Of Causing The Death Of Nigerian Man During An Arrest

On Monday, July 8, 2024, the Vaud Cantonal Court affirmed the original not-guilty verdict against the officers, who faced charges of negligent homicide and abuse of office in the 2018 incident in Lausanne.

The court justified its decision by stating that emergency responders acted proportionately.

The ruling immediately triggered demonstrations outside the courthouse in Renens, near Lausanne in western Switzerland. Approximately 80 protesters gathered, shouting slogans such as “Black lives matter!”, “Justice for Mike”, and “Police kill, the judiciary acquits!”

According to reports, 39-year-old Mike had resisted a drug check and died while being restrained by the six accused officers, who held him face-down on the ground. He passed away in the hospital several hours later after suffering a heart attack.

During the initial trial in June the previous year, a Lausanne court had ruled that the officers could not be convicted of negligent homicide, a decision supported by the public prosecutor’s office citing inconclusive forensic analyses regarding the cause of Ben Peter’s death.

Following three days of hearings at the cantonal appeals court in Renens last week, three judges upheld the lower court’s verdict, clearing the officers of all charges, including abuse of authority.

In response to the verdict, Ben Peter’s widow, Bridget Efe, expressed determination for justice, stating, “Mike must get justice, no matter what. We still move forward.”

Christian Favre, the lawyer representing one of the officers, emphasized that the court’s detailed and thorough ruling provided a strong confirmation of their acquittal, expressing relief and satisfaction with the outcome.

As defense lawyers exited the courtroom, they faced loud protests from demonstrators who accused the justice system of racism and expressed disdain with chants of “racist justice” and “shame on you.”

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