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Harku gas attack work of fiction

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PHOTO: Politsei

A recently completed internal audit finds that the joint statement by 15 residents of the Harku illegal immigrants detention center that claims police resorted to tear gas during a so-called riot in early December was based on lies.

As none of the residents reported having seen the gas attack with their own eyes, the investigation ruled out its use in the detention center based on several excluding circumstances.

The main argument leans on security camera footage and results of medical examinations that found no traces of health problems caused by tear gas. Some symptoms would be unavoidable in situations where the gas is used indoors.

Several circumstances seemed different in the early stages of the audit. Investigators had a joint statement from 15 persons set against the testimony of a single police officer. In hindsight, only one of the 16 persons was telling the truth – the policeman.

The so-called unrest in Harku broke out during the night of December 4 when a Nigerian detainee, whom doctors have officially found to be suffering from Munchhausen syndrome, entered the hallway naked after which attempts were made by other residents to calm him.

A police officer working at the detention center arrived and was met with aggressive behavior from the naked man in the hallway. The officer and a resident of the center proceeded to lead the restless man into his room where the detainee assaulted the police officer again after which the latter produced a tear gas can from his belt.

The resident who had helped the officer remove the restless man from the hallway also came under attack and left the room for about a minute in a state of obvious irritation.

The police officer now had every right to use tear gas on the aggressive man but resolved not to. He later told detectives that he had planned to use the gas before the situation changed after eight other residents entered the room.

The rampaging man began to calm himself after which residents left the room. Residents later claimed that the officer had used tear gas on the man immediately before they entered the room.

The internal audit revealed that none of them had seen the officer use gas, and only one person had smelled it after entering the room.

The investigation concludes that such claims are impossible as use of tear gas in an enclosed area would have produced an intensive smell and resulted in mucous membrane irritation for everyone in the room.

The rampaging man later claimed he has no recollection of the incident. The ambulance that arrived to check on him that night found no evidence of the man having been subjected to tear gas just 22 minutes after the incident.

Therefore it is impossible the officer used gas, the summary of the investigation available to Postimees reads. Signs of trauma were not found during a more thorough medical examination the next day that looked out for signs of tear gas having been used.

Security footage shows the man who initially helped the officer restrain the rioter: how he leaves the room unexpectedly, crouches in the hallway visibly irritated, and goes for a glass of water before returning to the room with his fellow residents.

The investigation concludes that his behavior is in no way consistent with that of a gas attack victim: he would have demanded the ambulance to also check his condition due to feeling extremely poor and suffering from a burning sensation.

That is something the man who has left Estonia by now did not do. The investigation concludes his momentary dismay was caused by the fact his fellow resident also attacked him in the room.

The fact that he claimed the next day that a gas attack had taken place in the room was allegedly the result of an agreement between residents. „Rather we believe it might have been a case of a fictitious and malicious complaint against an officer of the center the principal aim of which was to attract media attention to voice dissatisfaction with conditions in the center,“ the summary reads.

The protest meeting of the following day served the same goal and proved successful as the activities of the detainees were covered extensively by Eesti Päevaleht and Delfi.

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