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Austria, Nigeria face diplomatic row over death of Nigerian in detention

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Kingsley Chinagorom EchetaTension, confusion and surprise gripped African communities, activists and concerned Europeans last Thursday over the latest news of the death of Kingsley

Chinagorom Echeta who died in the custody of the Austrian police in Vienna.

[Photo: Kingsley Chinagorom Echeta who died in the custody of the Austrian police in Vienna]


The cause of the panic was a letter from the Austrian forensic department Vienna (Department für Gerichtsmedizin, Wien – where the corpse of Kingsley is lying) sent to the fiancée of late Kingsley Ms. Patricia Urbanek.

The letter which was made available to Global Reporters (GR) and signed by Prof. Dr. Daniel U. Risser, the Vienna forensic department leader, and copied to the prosecutor of the case Dr. Bettina Sommer, referred to the Viennese funeral law 19, paragraph 5 which says that after five days of issuing a death certificate the ‘Magistrat’ (municipal administration) has to arrange a burial if nobody takes responsibility, and requested from her to get back to them best before 31.08.2015, saying whether they should inform the municipal administration on the issue.

People who spoke to Global Reporters under anonymity about the development were overwhelmingly in shock as to why such letter had been addressed to Urbanek and not or copied to the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna.

It should be recalled that the federal government of Nigeria through its embassy went to the prosecutor’s office in Landesgerichtsstraße, 1080 Vienna, and made its stand clearly known that Kingsley’s body should not be buried until the cause of his death was known. It also went to the Vienna forensic department, 1090 Vienna, saw the lifeless body of Kingsley in the coroner’s office and equally spoke to the leader of the department Prof. Dr. Risser and conveyed the same message that Kingsley’s corpse should not be buried until the autopsy result was out and the cause of his death known. So what changed? Is the Nigerian government no longer interested in knowing why and how Kingsley died? Could it be that the Nigerian Embassy’s oral order was not enough to be recognized by law? Are there no diplomatic channels recognized internationally to address this kind of issue between two governments? If yes, did the Nigerian government open this channel?

The autopsy result is out but the Nigerian government is yet to be informed officially about the result and its outcome. If the federal government of Nigeria previously informed government representatives – the prosecutor and the forensic department of Austria, that Kingsley would not be buried until the autopsy result was known, and now the autopsy result is out and the result not yet known neither by the embassy nor Kingsley’s fiancée, would it be justified to request to start the process of burial? Would it also be correct here to say that the Nigerian government was neglected?

Kingsley was arrested on 22.06.2015 at 07:15pm and he died on 23.06.2015 at exactly 05:20am. When his fiancée went to see his lifeless body she said that he had a bruised lip and an open fresh wound by the left hand side of his eye, an account that raised voluminous interests and questions of whether he had been tortured to or before his death.

Uzoma Ahamefule wrote via Globalreporters

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