ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – The first group of Nigerians to be returned to their country in a year for being in Switzerland illegally was coloured by problems at Zurich Airport Thursday 7 July. Two of the group of 19 resisted and were injured by police; they were not put on the plane in the end and both were sent to cantonal prisons, according to Zurich police, who say an administrative inquiry has been opened.
The incident received heavy coverage by Swiss media Friday in part because the Federal Office for Migration, which is responsible for the flights, issued a press release saying that the flight was “without incident”. TSR reports that the office later explained the two versions of Thursdays events as an administrative communications confusion, with the Migrations press release referring only to the flight itself, since what happened earlier falls under the responsibility of Zurich police.
Flights to return Nigerians who are illegally in the country were stopped following the March 2010 death of one man at Zurich Airport. An autopsy later showed that the 29-year-old had died of a heart problem, but the death, initially unexplained, followed other incidents where police were accused of using violence.
The Swiss and Nigerian governments spent several months negotiating an agreement, signed in November 2010, on how to handle the flights.