The Cyprus government must pay €12,700 in damages to Kone Sehana Seagal, a French-born man currently living in Cyprus, for ill-treatment by prison guards and other inmates whilst in detention at Nicosia Central Prisons and the lack of medical care for the injuries he sustained therefrom, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday.
Seagal had been detained in Cyprus on four occasions – twice for short periods in January and February 2010, between April and June 2013 after being convicted of circulating forged documents, resisting arrest and assaulting and obstructing a police officer during the performance of his duties, and from June 2013 to October 2014 with a view to his deportation.
However, as he did not have a valid passport or any other travel document indicating his country of origin, he could not be deported.
From November 2013 onwards, Cypriot immigration authorities interviewed Seagal, who refused to provide information as to his real identity, and contacted the embassy of France and the consulate of the Ivory Coast in Cyprus to ascertain whether he was one of their citizens. Both attempts proved fruitless, and he was released in October 2014.
Seagal alleged that in April 2013, while serving his jail-term, he was attacked by five prisoners after refusing to clean their cells.
He also claimed the prison guards hit him when he was taken back to his wing, and that he was only taken to hospital 24 hours later.
The Cyprus government’s lawyers claimed that the incident occurred when Seagal refused to comply with guards’ orders and attempted to hit one, prompting the intervention of one of the guards and two prisoners in a bid to immobilise him.
He was immediately seen by the prison’s doctor and taken to hospital the next day, the government said.
Doctors found that, as a result of the incident, Seagal had a perforated eardrum and blood in the ear canal.
The court sustained Seagal’s complaint regarding the violation of articles 3 and 5.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, regarding ill-treatment and detention from June 2013 to October 2014, and ordered the Republic of Cyprus to pay him damages of €12,700 within three months.