Pakistani officials to attend autopsy of 'suicide'

8th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

8 May 2006, BERLIN/ISLAMABAD - German authorities Monday delayed by two days an autopsy on a Pakistani who apparently hanged himself in jail in order to permit observers from Pakistan to watch the autopsy.

8 May 2006

BERLIN/ISLAMABAD - German authorities Monday delayed by two days an autopsy on a Pakistani who apparently hanged himself in jail in order to permit observers from Pakistan to watch the autopsy.

The delay was to allow officials from Pakistan to be present when pathologists examine the body of Amir Cheema, 28, who died in a Berlin jail cell last Wednesday. There have been public protests in his hometown, Rawalpindi, in connection with his death.

Michael Grunwald, spokesman for the Berlin public prosecutors who are heading the inquiry into the death, said Monday that Pakistan had asked Germany for observers to be present, and Germany agreed.

The autopsy was originally set to take place Monday, straight after the observers arrived, but since the delegation from Pakistan would not now reach Berlin till Tuesday, the examination had been set down for Wednesday.

A senior Pakistani official in Islamabad Monday confirmed a two- member delegation is to leave Islamabad for Berlin on Tuesday.

"We are leaving Islamabad Tuesday to investigate the causes of death," Additional Director General Federal Investigations Agency (FIA) Tariq Khosa, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Islamabad.

Khosa, who will lead the delegation, said they would start investigations on reaching Berlin on Wednesday.

He was not sure whether it would be a joint investigation with Berlin authorities, saying "we will begin with autopsy and then look into the circumstances that led to Cheema's death."

The FIA official said the entire process of investigation might take 2-3 days, adding that the Pakistani delegation will stay in Berlin beyond this period only if any follow up investigation is required.

Cheema's father, Professor Nazir Cheema, expressed his dismay at the developments after his son's death.

"We have been undergoing mental trauma for the last five days. We don't know when the body will be handed over to us," he said, speaking to reporters at his residence in Rawalpindi as people arrived to place bouquets outside his house as a mark of respect.

"People are very furious over the incident and any delay in handing over the body may trigger angry protests. Ours is a weak government which is unable to protect the lives of its citizens.

"My son died under mysterious circumstances and I am not ready to accept that he killed himself. The German and Pakistan governments should give us his body as soon as possible so that we perform his burial," he said.

Pakistan has demanded an explanation of how its citizen died in German police custody. Prosecutors say the evidence indicates he hanged himself, six weeks after allegedly invading a Berlin newspaper office armed with a knife.

A student of textile management at a German university, he was detained on suspicion of threatening behaviour and resisting arrest.

He was accused of trying to kill the editor of the newspaper Die Welt, Roger Koeppel, because the newspaper had printed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, and had to be overpowered by police.

Police reportedly said he hung himself using his own clothing after officials found him to be a suicide risk and he was put on suicide watch, during which he was to be continually checked.

A Foreign Ministry official said in Islamabad Friday that the cause of death would be known only after investigations were completed by German authorities.

At least five people were killed in February in protests in Pakistan against the publication of derogatory cartoons of Mohammed that were first printed in a Danish newspaper before spreading around Europe and the world.

A delegation of Pakistani lawyers visited United Nations offices in the garrison town of Rawalpindi Monday to lodge a protest over the death in Berlin.

The delegation presented a protest memorandum to a senior UN official who promised to forward it to the office of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York.

"Pakistan's government should properly investigate the circumstances that led to Amir Cheema's death," said Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, leader of the group of lawyers, who were acting as private citizens.

Cheema's death also echoed in Pakistan's National Assembly last week after members of the six-party Islamic alliance, Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal(MMA) raised the issue in the house.

The house is to discuss the issue in its next session.

Two small groups of students and Islamic activists also held demonstrations in Pakistan's central city of Multan and the capital Islamabad, holding German police responsible for Cheema's death.


Subject: German news

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