May 19, 2021


Beyond law

UPDATE 1-Portugal border cops plead not responsible in killing of detained traveller

* Ukrainian person died in Lisbon airport detention centre

* Autopsy photos confirmed body lined in dark bruises

* Border officers plead not guilty of homicide charges

* Critics say circumstance exposes abusive tradition in border company

* Border agency’s workers union denies accusation (Provides summary, prices from first day of demo)

LISBON, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Three Portuguese police officers accused of killing a detained Ukrainian man in a Lisbon airport lock-up pleaded not guilty as their murder demo commenced on Tuesday, a scenario legal rights advocates say has exposed a document of abuse in the immigration support.

Attorneys representing the accused argued the media had produced scapegoats out of their shoppers, and that some others performing in the detention centre that night time should also experience expenses.

“There are a lot of tales of abuse which come about in this ‘no-man’s land’,” Ricardo Sa Fernandes, representing accused officer Bruno Sousa, said in his opening assertion. “Homeniuk died since of the deplorable circumstances in that centre.”

Ihor Homeniuk, 42, was detained at Lisbon airport right after his arrival on March 10, 2020. Attorneys for his widow said he came to Lisbon to search for work. Two days immediately after he was taken into custody, he was declared useless.

Pictures taken all through Homeniuk’s autopsy and seen by Reuters confirmed his human body protected in dark bruises, from his facial area to his ankles, with deep handcuff marks on his wrists.

A government inquiry found that he had been kicked, crushed, handcuffed with his hands and legs taped and then remaining to slowly but surely asphyxiate on the ground of a area in a detention centre for travellers whose proper to entry is in query.

The officers, who introduced a joint defence, explained they ended up identified as to the detention centre to aid deal with a male whose behaviour had been described to them as violent and erratic.

They explained they located him with his arms and legs taped together – a restraining technique all three condemned – and replaced the tape with a fabric tie and metal handcuffs on his arms. Two officers claimed they observed a number of bruises on his human body.

Requested regardless of whether they experienced bodily strike Homeniuk, all a few said no. “There was no require to conquer him,” defendant Sousa claimed. “He was currently in a fragile condition.”

The trial is envisioned to last around two months.

At the heart of general public fascination in the proceedings is whether or not they will paint the death as a a person-off tragedy, as some officials preserve, or the result of a systemic society of brutality in the SEF border services, as legal rights groups assert.

“I’ve had quite a few battles with SEF,” Jose Gaspar Schwalbach, the attorney for Homeniuk’s widow, informed Reuters. “My purpose is to abolish the provider and transform the law.”


Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita explained in December that a 6-month blueprint to restructure SEF would be offered to parliament in January, but this has yet to be performed.

Cabrita defended the SEF history, indicating just 51 complaints involving verbal or actual physical abuse were being made from the assistance in 2020. Legal rights teams and attorneys say the quantity of unreported circumstances is very likely a lot greater.

“Officers place people today under massive psychological tension,” claimed migration law firm Adriano Caeiro. “When detainees have their ‘interview’, they are presently worried.”

A selection of former detainees have spoken to neighborhood media since Homeniuk’s dying about possessing skilled intimidation and abuse – from beatings in isolated rooms to getting pressured to indication documents stating they entered the state to function illegally.

The govt reported in December it experienced opened an inquiry into these accounts.

SEF informed Reuters it does not remark on ongoing inquiries. The SEF personnel union denied that a lifestyle of abuse existed in the organisation, declaring border officers have been “here to help”. (Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Catarina Demony, Enhancing by Ingrid Melander and Mark Heinrich)