Jimmy Mubenga: MPs call for inquiry
Submitted 18 Oct 2010 4:26pm
MPs have called for an inquiry into the death of an Angolan deportee who died while being restrained by security guards on an outbound flight from Heathrow.
Police and paramedics were called when Mr Mubenga lost consciousness, and the aircraft, which had been due to take off, returned to the terminal.
A US citizen - the third witness to come forward within 24 hours of the incident, last Tuesday night - was a passenger on the same flight. He said: “The last thing we heard the man say was he couldn't breathe.”
So far, four passengers have come forward to say that during the flight, they saw the 46-year-old father of five being heavily restrained under the seats by security officers.
Scotland Yard have taken over the investigation into Mr Mubenga's death. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Officers from the homicide and serious crime command are investigating the death."
During a Home Affairs select committee, Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert called for a 'wide ranging and independent inquiry' into the country's deportation system.
Labour Chair Keith Vaz said: "The use of excessive force in deportations is dangerous and unacceptable. If, as eyewitness reports suggest, Mr Mubenga was complaining of breathing difficulties, questions must be asked as to why help was not called for sooner.
"I will be writing to both the home secretary and G4S on this matter whilst awaiting the outcome of police investigations. When removing people from the UK, human rights must be fully respected at all times." Concluded Mr Vaz.
Mr Mubenga's death echoes that of Jamaican immigrant Joy Gardner, who died in 1993 when police and immigration officers attempted to arrest and deport her, following the expiration of her six-month visa.
Thirteen feet of tape was wrapped around Ms Gardner's head and a body belt was used as a restraint. Ms Gardner fell in to a coma and was pronounced dead in hospital.
Three police officers were tried and cleared of causing her death.
The Institute of Race Relations' report into the lives of asylum seekers says that racist asylum and immigration policies in the UK have led to the deaths of 77 asylum seekers and migrants over the past four years, including that of Mr Mubenga.
Driven to Desperate Measures found that seven are said to have died in prison custody; more than a third of the deaths are people suspected or known to have taken their own lives after their asylum claims had been turned down; seven are said to have died after being denied health care for "preventable medical problems" and 15 are said to have died during desperate and "highly risky" attempts to enter the country.
By Davina Kirwan
Gran Bretagna, immigrato muore ammanettato al sedile dell'aereo durante il rimpatrio
Jimmy Mubenga si lamentava perché non riusciva a respirare, ma le guardie di sicurezza private che lo stavano scortando in Angola non gli avrebbero creduto
"Non respiro, non respiro", ma le guardie private non gli credono. Jimmy Mubenga, 58 anni, è morto ammanettato al sedile dell'aeroplano che lo stava riportato in Angola.
Immigrato irregolare, l'uomo era scortato da tre guardie private. "Due erano sedute ai lati, mentre una terza aveva il posto davanti al suo", racconta Kevin Wallis, ingegnere che si trovava seduto vicino a Mubenga. "Continuava a dire che non riusciva a respirare, ma le guardie, dopo le mie proteste, mi hanno detto che sarebbe stato bene una volta in volo".
Invece l'aereo della British Airways, in partenza da Heathrow martedì sera, non è mai decollato. Mubenga è stato trasportato in ambulanza verso l'ospedale, ma i medici non hanno potuto fare altro che constatarne la morte. Ora la polizia ha aperto un'indagine per capire cosa sia andato storto e se le guardie abbiano avuto un ruolo nella morte. "Lo tenevano giù con forza, troppa forza, anche se lui si lamentava", denuncia Wallis. Nel 2006 Mubenga era stato condannato a due anni di reclusione per lesioni personali dopo una rissa in un nightclub.