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Probe into custody death

AN inquiry has been launched after a 22-year-old Tunisian man died while under arrest by police in Grasse.

AN investigation has been launched into the death of a 22-year-old Tunisian man who died in police custody.

The public prosecutor in Grasse has begun an inquiry after a post-mortem found that Abdelakim Ajiimi showed possible signs of asphyxiation and heart problems.

Mr Ajiimi was being transferred after being arrested after an incident at a branch of Crédit Agricole where he had been refused money.

Prosecutor Marc Désert said that although Mr Ajiimi’s death was ‘not natural’ the autopsy had excluded the possibility that he had died as a result of injuries sustained from police officers during his arrest.

Mr Désert said: "The arrest by the officers was justified, as were the techniques," but added that he would be investigating whether the situation had got out of control.

Speaking on behalf of the family of Mr Ajiimi, solicitor Franck de Vita said: “The signs of asphyxiation are a strong indicator of an unnatural death and thus, according to us, the fault of the police during the arrest.”

Officers have claimed that Mr Ajiimi struggled violently during his arrest and that one policeman suffered a dislocated shoulder and a fractured clavicle.

Further examinations on the deceased, including toxicology tests, have yet to be carried out.

According to the public prosecutor, the dead man has suffered mental health problems and had been the subject of judicial proceedings for driving under the influence of drugs.

Police union Unsa issued a statement calling on the family and those close to Mr Ajiimi to remain calm despite the tragic situation.

It added that the officers should be treated as innocent until proven guilty like all citizens.

A separate investigation has been opened by the government of Tunisia.

Photo: Jonas Roux

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