Investigations continued into the 1995 death in police custody of Osmo Vallo (see Amnesty International Report 1998). A further post-mortem on the body of Osmo Vallo was performed in February. The post-mortem report concluded that the main cause of death was the violence of the arresting police officers and, in particular, the forceful pressure caused by an officer stamping on his back. This pressure fractured ribs and resulted in impaired breathing and heart failure. As a consequence of these findings the Prosecutor General was considering whether to bring additional charges against police involved in the arrest and ill-treatment of Osmo Vallo. In view of disagreement about the findings of this post-mortem examination, the Prosecutor General requested the opinion of the National Board of Health and Welfare.
In November the government published the findings and recommendations of the Chancellor of Justice's inquiry into the procedures for handling cases of deaths in custody. The Chancellor stated that in the course of the inquiry he found examples of cases in which police conduct towards detainees was unacceptable. He recommended a wide range of measures to be taken by the police and government bodies including: improved training; continuing assessments of existing and proposed restraint techniques; better communication of the risks involved in the use of various restraint techniques; and procedures to guarantee that police vehicles were equipped with functioning life-saving equipment.
He also recommended changes in the process for investigation by police of deaths and serious injury in police custody in order to strengthen public confidence in such inquiries. These included creation of special regional police investigation units, ensuring that prosecutors lead such inquiries and promulgation of regulations requiring all relevant police reports to be handed over to forensic pathologists conducting post-mortem examinations.
In February the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment carried out its second periodic visit to police establishments and prisons in Sweden. Its findings and recommendations had not been made public by the end of the year.
In March a prosecutor closed the investigation into the alleged ill-treatment by police in 1997 of three men of ethnic minority origin (see Amnesty International Report 1998). She concluded that there was insufficient evidence of wrongful conduct by the police.
Upon examination of petitions brought by Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish nationals who had been refused asylum in Sweden, the UN Committee against Torture concluded that the decisions of the Swedish authorities in their cases violated the government's obligation under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture or of being expelled to another state where they might face such a risk. Subsequently the authorities allowed one of the four to remain in Sweden; decisions on the other three were still pending at the end of the year.
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