Torture complaints after illegal police restraint death

An autopsy has revealed that a 23 year-old Danish man died after being placed in an illegal police restraint, prompting calls for the case to be brought before the United Nations torture committee.

Ekrem Sahim suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma when seven police offers placed him in the banned total appendage restraint position (TARP).

The method, which involves the prisoner being laid on their front before having their hands cuffed behind their back and their ankles put in a leg-lock, has been illegal in the country since 1994 after 18 year-old Benjamin Shou also fell into a coma when he was placed in the position by police on New Year’s Eve in 1992. He suffered brain damage and never awoke, dying in a care home 16 years later.

Since the latest case emerged, the Danish United Nations Association (FN-forbundet) has condemned the continued use of the restraint method by prison guards. “The use of a leg-lock is contrary to the UN convention against torture,” Tue Magnussen of the organisation wrote in a press release.

Magnussen also criticised the Danish government for not revealing that TARP was still being used in the country when it compiled its report on human rights for the UN in May. “Leg-locks contravene the UN’s principles that you don’t treat people in inhuman or degrading ways, so the UN Human Rights Council should have been informed when Denmark was under examination,” he told MetroXpress.

Kim Osterbye from the Danish Prison association told the newspaper, however, that they were not informed about the risks. “It is stated in the autopsy report that it is well known in the medical community that the use of a leg-lock in extreme circumstances can lead to death,” Osterbye said. “And if this is correct, that this is common knowledge, then it’s not acceptable that we have not been informed.”