The emetic system

Many institutions have enabled and supported the system of emetics. Without the consent or at least the tolerance of all these institutions, this system would not have been possible. All institutions acted in a similar way: the allocation of emetics was supposed to go quietly and smoothly.

Thus, the measure was indeed “everyday evidence” (Beweissicherungsalltag), as former mayor Scherf stated in his testimony before the Bremen Regional Court in 2013. But there was almost no discussion about it on the part of the responsible actors – and certainly no critical discussion:

Already in the 1990s, the then mayor and justice senator Scherf forbade any criticism or public discussion on the few occasions when the distribution of emetics was discussed in the senate or the parliament: he reprimanded the health senator and SPD party comrade Wischer when she expressed (tender) concerns about the distribution of emetics and demanded that she keep quiet; he also rejected a question from the SPD parliamentary group in 1996.

Within the judiciary, the substance finds seized in the course of the emetic distribution were routinely introduced as evidence in proceedings for violation of the Narcotics Act (BtMG). Just as routinely, however, the judiciary refused any review as to whether this evidence had been acquired in a lawful manner.

From a medical point of view, the then president of the medical chamber gave the green light to the entire procedure with a simple letter: although the medical chamber “in principle opposes measures of violence in connection with medical activity”. However, if doctors were to participate in violent state measures, “they would not be violating the medical ethos”.

And so Dr. Birkholz, who for almost 10 years was primarily responsible for the administration of emetics, gave another example of silence and indifference after the killing of Laye Condé. Asked by the newspaper taz about the number of violent emetics administered, Birkholz spoke of possibly four cases for the year 2004; “however, this is not known exactly because the doctors onlye report n medical measures“.

If the concealment of emetic practices did not work, the “emetic system” could quickly resort to intimidation and criminalisation. In 1995, the Anti-Racism Office Bremen (ARAB) wrote an open letter to Senator of Justice Scherf demanding that the measure be stopped and documented reports of People affected (victims) in the brochure Broschüre “Polizisten, die zum Brechen reizen”. As a result, legal action was taken against ARAB staff for „incitement of the people“; the brochure was confiscated during a house search.

In 1997, when Amnesty International joined in the massive criticism of the distribution of emetics, this criticism was also not seriously dealt with at any time. The then Senator of the Interior, Borttscheller (CDU), on the other hand, was quoted as saying: “Completely uncritically and unchecked, Amnesty International has taken over the accusations of a left-wing extremist organisation.”

Even after the practice of giving out emetics was banned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2006, the silence about the practice of giving out emetics by those responsible continued for years. When the demands from civil society for a reappraisal could no longer be ignored, the representatives from politics, the police, the judiciary and medicine again acted unanimously: they now agreed that there was a need to take responsibility for the distribution of emetics and Laye Condé’s death. But their fingers pointed at the other actors. Whereas in the past everyone had pulled together and caused the victims to strangle, years later suddenly no one wanted to be involved or to be responsible. For many years, this diffusion of responsibility determined the opinions of politics, police, justice and medicine.

Some examples from this „carousel of responsibility“:

  • The current Senator of the Interior Mäurer – at the time of Laye Condé’s killing already in a responsible position as State Councillor for Justice and Constitution; shortly before the killing he had still thanked “police officers and doctors” for their commitment in the distribution of emetics with the words that they “create the prerequisite for the perpetrators to be punished by completing this unsavoury task“  – states in the police brochure mentioned above that he had relied on the judiciary and the Bremen Medical Chamber.
  • The police officers who were actively involved in the killing of Laye Condé testify before the Bremen Regional Court that the accused doctor Igor V. could have stopped the operation at any time.
  • The same doctor as well as his boss Birkholz say in court that they were forced to use the emetics – otherwise the public prosecutor would have threatened them with criminal prosecution. Moreover, the medical Chamber would not have objected to the use of emetics.
  • The Bremen Medical Chamber, on the other hand, claims today that it has always been against the forced administration of emetics.
  • In 2013, the former mayor and justice senator Henning Scherf commented before the Bremen Regional Court on the letters he had signed, showing him to be a clear hardliner of emetic torture, that of course he had not read what he had signed. The juidicial officials who were subordinate to him and worked with him were responsible.
  • Finally, in November 2013, and that really takes the biscuit, the Bremen Regional Court in the reasoning for discontinuing the trail against the doctor, now suddenly speaks of “possible misconduct by third parties or even a failure of policy”. This insight comes too late and serves the court at this point exclusively to exonerate the accused and justify the termination of the trial. For eight years, the Bremen judiciary had taken no steps whatsoever to indict the police officers or the head of the Medical Evidence Preservation Service – although this had been more than suggested to them by the Federal Court of Justice in the appeal judgements.

13 years of emetic torture in Bremen are unthinkable without those specifically responsible and without the political will of those involved – and would never have been possible. The multidimensionality of the deadly “system of emetics”, the complex interplay of racist police violence, irrational drug policy, obedience by the authoritarian state, the addiction of doctors and medical workers to distinguish oneself professionally and legal indifference must be named and dealt with, as well as the exoneration strategies of those responsible.

X Entschädigung für alle Betroffenen von Brechmittelfolter