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Court : French authorities negligent in ‘double-seated embrace’ police restraint death

Human rights judges have declared French authorities were negligent in the death of man after restraint by police.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Semache v. France (application no. 36083/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in its substantive aspect,


no violation of Article 2 in its procedural aspect.

As Just satisfaction, (Article 41) , the court held that France was to pay the applicant 30,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 7,500 for costs and expenses.

The case was brought by Annissa Semache, an Algerian national who was born in 1987 and lives in Argenteuil (France). It concerned the death of the applicant’s father, Ali Ziri, who was 69 years old, following his arrest by the police and his detention in Argenteuil police station.

The court found in particular that the restraining of Ziri by a ‘double-seated embrace’ technique, during his transfer by car to the police station, had been justified and strictly proportionate to the aim pursued.

However, Ziri’s situation at the Argenteuil police station had been dealt with negligently by the authorities, which had not done what could have been reasonably expected of them to prevent the risk of death.

While there had been certain deficiencies – failure to hold a reconstruction of events and the total length of the proceedings – the court found that having regard to the measures taken, and in particular the medical assessments, the effectiveness of the investigation could not be called into question.

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