Zurich, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – A Nigerian man who was being sent back to Nigeria on a special repatriation flight died at Zurich Airport Wednesday night 17 March, under circumstances that the police and federal authorities have not made clear. An investigation into his death has been opened and Bern announced Thursday that all such special flights are cancelled until further notice.
Details about whether the man was an asylum-seeker or not have not been released, but asylum-seekers whose requests are turned down are returned on “special” flights, as are people without papers who are arrested for serious crimes.
Swiss news agency ATS reports that the man, 29, was arrested for drug trafficking and that he had been on a hunger strike.
He reportedly fell ill shortly after being handcuffed as the flight was preparing to leave. ATS reports that he was one of 16 people being sent back to Lagos, all of whom had refused to leave the country voluntarily.
Police as a rule handcuff those who refuse to leave voluntarily, for security reasons, a practice which has sparked debate. An incident at Geneva’s Cointrin Airport in February 2009 where two men were injured led to an investigation and calls for impartial observers to accompany flights.