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Why did Georgios Zantiotis have to die? Statements by the public prosecutor’s office in Wuppertal scientifically refuted [Germany]

Wuppertal. Germany. On 1 November 2021, Georgios Zantiotis dies in Wuppertal police custody. Shortly before, he had been arrested for as yet unexplained reasons. His sister and mother, numerous friends and the interested public have since been demanding conclusive and substantial explanations for the death of 25-year-old Georgios Zantiotis.

We are still wondering what caused Georgio’s death.

(see statement family below)

In November and December 2021, the Wuppertal Chief Public Prosecutor Mr Baumert misled public opinion with his hasty conclusions and claims. First he spoke of a natural cause of death. Then in the state parliament, the prosecution claimed Georgios Zantiotis was under the influence of alcohol and a few sentences later we learned that 0.1 per mille of alcohol had also been detected in the victim’s blood. In December, Baumert linked the death of Georgios Zantiotis to the “proven” substances. Based on the statements of the public prosecutor’s office, the WZ made a daring claim (newspaper WZ on December 3, 2021) and ran the headline: “Experts find drug cocktail in dead man’s blood”. But neither the prosecution nor the WZ knew the results of the toxicological tests at that time. We criticise this dishonest approach, which spreads untruths and causes the family additional pain to the loss of their son and brother.

They not only torment the souls who leave, but also the families who are left behind.

(see statement family below)

Results of toxicological examinations disprove the prosecution and the WZ

After the public prosecutor’s office closed the case and filed it in the first half of January 2022, it was presented with the results of the toxicological examination by the University of Düsseldorf at the end of February. In parallel, the Zantiotis family commissioned a second, independent autopsy. The results show that Georgios Zantiotis was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of death. The substances found were in such low concentrations that they could not have been taken on the evening of the event. Furthermore, the substances found were neither suitable to explain the death of Georgios Zantiotis nor were they the cause of death. However, the numerous haemorrhages and injuries of Georgios Zantiotis in particular raise further questions. So why is there no correction from the public prosecutor’s office and the admission that the death of Georgios Zantiotis in the police cell could not be solved?

We are constantly tormented by the question of how Georgios spent his last minutes.

(see statement family below)

To date, the cause of Georgios Zantiotis’ death has not been clarified. Furthermore, we still do not know what exactly happened to 25-year-old Georgios Zantiotis in custody. Furthermore, the suspicion remains that, as in other cases of deaths in police custody known to us, the statements and testimonies could have been coordinated. We also ask: Why was Georgios Zantiotis restrained and why was there a violent attempt to draw blood from him? What reason justified the withdrawal of blood? Why was Georgios Zantiotis physically interfered with by disproportionate means? In particular, the avoidable situation of the involuntary and forcible withdrawal of blood is also an extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation from a police tactical point of view, which could have been avoided by the police. The investigation of a possible “death in custody” should therefore have top priority in the further investigations. Because for us it is clear: if Georgios Zantiotis had not been arrested and an attempt had been made to take blood against his will, he would still be alive.
Our trust in the police and law enforcement agencies does not grow by jumping to conclusions and publicly stigmatising and criminalising victims. When people continually lose their lives in police custody and there is a lack of both investigation and consequences, our trust continues to dwindle. Georgios Zantioti’s death is one in a chain of unsolved cases. Only recently, the parliamentary committee of enquiry into the death of Amed Ahmad ended their work without any consequences.
We stand in solidarity with the Zantiotis family and will continue to work together for an independent and substantive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Georgios Zantiotis.

Araz Ardehali
on behalf of the Zantiotis family
the Amed Ahmad Initiative
and the CARAVAN for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants

Statement of the family and friends of Georgios Zantiotis

They torment not only the souls who leave, but also the families who stay behind.
We are still wondering what caused Georgio’s death.

April 12, 2022

After the test results we are sure that the mentioned accusations of violent behaviour are not justified. Our family and friends know who and how Georgios was. That is why we want to know what happened in that one hour in police custody. The testimonies of those who were present in the last hour of his life, combined with the autopsy and toxicological tests, point to violent behaviour for us. They follow orders, protocols and are typical of physical power structures. We are sure that Georgios fought for his life in custody while he was tortured, in pain and perhaps afraid near the end of his life. Why was he tortured so many times to draw blood? How did the police officers do it? What did they tell him? What Georgios said there in custody shortly before his death, we still don’t know.

We still wonder what caused his death. The police officers have a soul, a young life in their care, in their hands. How can they be sure within an hour that they can forcibly take blood without first having clarified whether this person is healthy and whether he or she can withstand the forced taking of blood? In order for the blood samples to be taken, the presence of a doctor is required. Within an hour, they tried to take his blood three times. We ask: What did the doctor who was present do? What is his task in Georgio’s cell? Why was there no consideration of what was to come? Why did the officials present and the doctor not save him?

After all this, our trust in the judiciary and the system is shaken. Our questions are still not answered. We believe that there are experts in the system in the appropriate positions to protect human rights, ensure equal treatment and use justice where it is needed. Not where it is only needed, against the citizens. But the people who do this work must also be able to act according to correct and, above all, fair criteria. Everyone’s goal is that no human being loses his or her life unnecessarily, that there is no death. Especially in detention, in the care of the state, such things must not happen. The state authorities are responsible for a life. Where is the justice?

The pain inflicted on our family is unbearable. It has deeply wounded our soul. All these people who understand and empathise with our pain give us the courage and strength we need. Without them, we would not be able to get to where we are today. For that we are grateful to them from the bottom of our hearts. These wonderful people, Georgios family, his friends, we all know who Georgios was. We need to find out how he died. It is worth it for Georgios and his memory, for one life, Georgios’ life.

We are constantly tormented by the question of how Georgios spent his last minutes. We can never know what his last words were. After all that we have experienced and had to learn in retrospect about other similar cases, we can only say one thing: the police station in Germany is a dangerous place to be. Nobody will hear you. They don’t care about your physical and mental health. Random events should not be accepted in relation to your life. They kill, and that is not acceptable.

They torment not only the souls who leave, but also the families who stay behind.


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