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Opinions of Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Columnist: Boatin, Kwaku

Declaration of war on police brutality

... and a case of cocaine.

Summary:

. Police has no right to apply rod of justice, says Attorney-General

Introduction of New Penal code

Defense counsel: New Penal Code will cut-back public expenditure on prisons.

Top model, Naomi Campbell’s example.

A case of cocaine.

With Switzerland declaring war on police brutality, seven policemen, including a Senior Police officer and three Inspectors, have been sentenced to various terms, under a new criminal code.

They were convicted on charges ranging from (1) abuse of power (2) causing bodily harm, (3) use of excessive force and (4) negligence.

.Attorney-general in charge of the Geneva Canton (region), Mr. Daniel Zappelli, announced the judgments passed on the seven policemen, according to Geneva Home information (GHI), a free 48-page weekly; home delivery and widely read newspaper, just published.

(Two daily newspaper of similar nature, “Leman Blue and 20 minutes”, put on commuter trains and buses and other vantage points in the city, for free collection, have also emerged on the news stand, improving quality of information to the public: the papers are read widely by pupils, students, and other people of all walks of life: their profit margins are based on adverts.)

Of the three Police Inspectors, two were accused for violently striking a suspect during the celebration of Geneva popular festival in 2004.

The Inspectors were convicted on abuse of power and causing bodily harm. One received two months suspended sentenced on community service, while the other had 120-day service of community work.

The Attorney-General says, the two inspectors after having dislodged the suspect from a brawl, violently hit the said suspect, while he had already been handcuffed and lying on the ground.

He says, the first Inspector in this case, who violently struck the suspect several times, lost control of himself and administer his “own justice”, because the suspect broke his jaw during the arrest.

Naomi Campbell’s example:

The new penal code, named “working in the interest general of community”, explains the paper GHI, has a quota of about 70 percent for traffic offenders, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol, 10-12 percent for certain narcotic related cases, with the rest reserved for small offences in the nature of telephone abuse, causing bodily harm and petty stealing, in the form of mugging and shop-lifting.

Known celebrity figures like Naomi Campbell recently undertook a community service following a court sentence, on an assault charge in the USA, while popular British singer, Boy George, and a French popular T.V. personality, Jean-Luc Delarue and a known humorist, François Silvant have also been sentenced to serve various court terms on “community service” programs in Britain and France .

(Boy George was sentenced to do community service for possessing cocaine, according to GHI, while the French top T.V. personality is to undergo “citizenship instructions” program for the scandal he created on a plane, during his vacation flight to South Africa).

Senior Police Officer:

In the case of the Senior Police officer in the rank of a Captain, the Attorney-General says, the accused was held responsible for bodily harm caused to one unionist, Mr. Denise Chervet, who was hit in the face by an astray bullet, shot by a new police marks-man, during a demonstration against International Organization of Commerce.

He explains that, while the shooter himself was declared innocent, the Captain who supervised police intervention during the demonstration was held accountable, because he (the Captain) should not have authorized the use of the new police weapon FN 303. He was, therefore, found guilty to act of negligence and causing bodily harm. and sentenced to 10 (Ten) days to undertake Community service.

The Captain, who has since retired, says he would appeal against the conviction.

Another inspector was also found guilty to have used excessive force and causing bodily harm to a suspect during his arrest in the middle of a road and was sentenced to 120-day community service fine.

While the suspect had been apprehend and lying on the ground, says the Attorney-General, the Inspector used his boots to kick him, several times in the face.

Other policemen involved in four other different cases of alleged police abuse were, however, cleared from offenses of assault and racism said to have been meted out on two Africans and a young Cameroonian. The Attorney-General says no violence was used by the police no words in the nature of racism, manifested in the case.

(Switzerland has one of the best operative Police force, perhaps in Europe, with well paid personnel, also well-equipped with modern high tech and mobility).

Defense counsel for the first Inspector, Mr. Robert Assaé, re-acting to the “problematique” application of the new criminal code, lauded the introduction of community service program, adding, “it’s innovative and positive; it is based on true change of thinking under rule of law”.

He says instead of rigorous application the law leading to prison sentences for non- serious but all the same grave offences, and rushing the guilty person to prison, it is the society and the guilty that both benefit under the new penal code.

While the guilty could constructively change, without loosing his job, he opines, the prison expenses are economized and society benefits from such engagements of offenders undertaking community service without pay.

The case of cocaine: a Doctor’s dilemma!!

In another development, ex-assistant doctor of CHUV hospital in Lausanne, about 70 kilometers off Geneva, received two years suspended sentence to run for a period of 5 years. The doctor, 39 was found guilty for violating narcotics laws, producing and selling drogue, called GHB, and ecstasy liquid, says Swiss Television...

In addition, the Doctor was disqualified from medial practices for a period of five years, and was ordered by the President of the tribunal correction court in Lausanne, to follow psychiatric treatment and also to submit regularly to drug control.

In his judgment the Tribunal President said the accused has had good luck to escape with such sentenced following appeal made on his behalf by the Minister Public, concerning the Doctor’s “doubtful mental capabilities”.

The Doctor was born in Bucharest, Romania and naturalized as a Suisse citizen in 1994, says a publication on “Blue-win” hosting website. He was found guilty for possessing the product, consuming and selling quantities of the drogue he produced, named GHB. The accused used cocaine and another drug called “Ritaline” GHB or acid gamma-hydro butyric is a hard drug which works on the nervous system; it’s first effects are amnesia, and state of euphoria. However, three or four milligrams, the drogue could become toxic and even become fatale.

In spite of the serious nature of the charge, the Tribunal took into consideration the conclusions of a psychiatry expert who declared the accused to be experiencing a form of “structure psychotic” and sees in the narcotics, as products of liberation.

From Kwaku Boatin, Geneva.

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