France held to account over death in custody

1st June 2006, Comments 0 comments

FRANCE, June 1, 2006 (AFP) - The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered France to pay EUR 50,000 in damages for its responsibility in the death of a Franco-Moroccan man held in police custody 13 years ago.

FRANCE, June 1, 2006 (AFP) - The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered France to pay EUR 50,000 in damages for its responsibility in the death of a Franco-Moroccan man held in police custody 13 years ago.

The Strasbourg-based international court ruled in favour of the parents of Pascal Tais, who died aged 33 in a cell in Arcachon, southwestern France, in 1993.

The court charged France with violating Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, and also of failing to carry out an effective inquiry regarding the circumstances of Tais's death.

"The Court found that France had not provided a plausible explanation as to the cause of the injuries that resulted in Pascal Tais's death," it said in a news release.

France was ordered to pay EUR 50,000 in damages and EUR 20,000 in costs to the parents.

Pascal Tais was found dead on April 7, 1993 in a cell at Arcachon police station where he had been placed overnight to sober up.

The day before, he had been in a minor road accident and was later stopped and questioned during a fight before being taken to hospital for a medical examination.

Tais refused to be examined and when he became violent police officers struck him with batons on the hands, legs and chest. Police also said they slapped him in an attempt to calm him down.

The doctor who attended him discharged him from hospital, and Tais, who appeared to be drunk, was placed in an overnight cell to sober up.

Tais shouted and screamed for part of the night and was found dead in his cell the next morning, lying in a pool of his blood and excrement.

According to the custody record made out that night, he had been checked regularly throughout his detention without anything unusual to report.

An autopsy report found that Tais had died of a haemorrhage following a rupture to the spleen. It recorded that he had a wound to the back of the head and skin erosions and multiple bruises, mainly to the face, neck, chest and limbs.

On an appeal by the parents, a Bordeaux court in June 2003 upheld a finding of no case to answer, which had been handed down by an investigating magistrate seven years' earlier.

The Bordeaux court said it was most likely that "the fatal injury had been sustained as a result of a fall", admitting however that this conclusion was unproven.

But the European court said France held responsbility for the death of Tais while in custody.

"In the absence of a plausible explanation for the discrepancy, or even contradiction, between the medical report drawn up when discharging the applicant from hospital and the autopsy report, and regarding the cause of the injuries found on Pascal Tais's body, and given that the injuries could in any event only have occurred during his detention, the Court held that France bore responsibility for the death of the applicants' son," it said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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