Socialist Worker

G4S officer in Jimmy Mubenga death inquest denies hearing cries for help

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2354

Jimmy Mubenga cried for help around 50 times in the struggle that led to his death, his inquest has heard. 

The witness, a passenger on the flight on which G4S guards were trying to deport Jimmy, was answering questions at Isleworth Crown Court last week.

Stuart Tribelnig was the senior of three G4S deportation custody officers (DCO) involved in the deportation. He told the inquest that he had not heard Jimmy call for help.

The UK Border Agency used G4S to escort detainees on commerial flights during forced deportations. It has since lost the contract.

Tribelnig’s evidence was that the three guards had to restrain Jimmy after he attacked them soon after boarding the plane. 

“He suddenly turned to me and said ‘I’m not going to go’,” said Tribelnig. “He lunged at me and knocked me back towards the aisle. I stood up and, if I remember correctly, I grabbed him in a bear hug and pushed him back again.”

Tribelnig said he thought the struggle continued for about 35 minutes, during which they handcuffed Jimmy. 

He accepted that Jimmy had his head below the level of the seatback tray for up to ten minutes. This position carries a risk of death by asphyxiation.

Tribelnig said it was Jimmy who put himself in that position, not the officers. 

Jimmy died after the incident on a BA airliner at Heathrow airport due to fly to Angola on 12 October 2010. 

Tribelnig had worked for G4S as a DCO since 2007, when he did a four-week training course. 

Two of the three DCOs accepted that they had texted racist jokes. Tribelnig told Henry Blaxland QC, one the Mubenga family’s lawyers, that they were “just the sort of jokes that did the rounds”.

The inquest is expected to last eight weeks.

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