No inquiry on Glasgow refugee family tower block deaths
Thursday 09 August 2012
The deaths of three asylum seekers who apparently leapt from a tower block more than two years ago will not be the subject of a fatal accident inquiry, officials have announced.
The Crown Office concluded that it is "not in the public interest" to hold such an examination of the deaths of Serguei Serykh, 43, his wife Tatiana, and his 19-year-old stepson Stepan.
The trio apparently threw themselves from the Red Road flats in Springburn, Glasgow, on March 7 2010.
The family's closest relative has been informed of the decision, the Crown Office said.
It is understood that the three Russian nationals had been living in the flats for a short time after arriving from Canada. They are said to have received a letter explaining that their accommodation in Glasgow was to be withdrawn on the day that they died.
Their deaths traumatised the community which includes many people seeking asylum.
The case was raised with First Minister Alex Salmond at Holyrood, and the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, sent his "sincere condolences" to family and friends of the asylum seekers.
Days after they lost their lives, hundreds of people joined a march and rally in their memory, demanding an end to the "enforced removal" of refugee families and called for an inquiry into the apparent suicides.
The charity Positive Action In Housing subsequently wrote to the then Lord Advocate, demanding a fatal accident inquiry.
Director Robina Qureshi wrote in March 2010: "Based on our experiences of the way the UK asylum policy operates on Scottish soil, we believe that the Serykh family would still be alive were it not for the way they were treated by the UK asylum system."
But the Crown Office has decided against such a move after it "fully considered" the case.
It said in a statement: "Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has completed its extensive investigation into the deaths of Serguei, Tatiana and Stepan Serykh, who died in the Springburn area of north-east Glasgow on March 7 2010.
"The matter was reported to Crown counsel who have fully considered all the circumstances and have concluded that it is not in the public interest to hold a fatal accident inquiry.
"In the course of the investigation, and in keeping with the obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, COPFS made contact with the nearest relative of the family and advised her of the circumstances of the tragedy and Crown counsel's decision."
Shortly after the deaths, the UK Border Agency said it had advised the family that arrangements were being made to return them to Canada where they had been granted protection, but that no imminent action to remove them from the UK was planned.
Ms Qureshi said today that the charity was "disappointed" with the decision.
"Quite clearly there are unanswered questions about how a family of three decided that they were going to kill themselves, on the day they had been told by the UK Border Agency that they had to leave their accommodation," she said.
"From our point of view, it isn't just a family of three that died. Questions need to be asked about the whole system under which asylum seekers have felt terrorised.
"We wanted those questions answered and those questions now go unanswered."
She said Positive Action In Housing has asked the Crown Office, via a freedom of information request, for further details about how it arrived at its decision.
"I don't think it's something we can let go of that easily," she said.
"There was a massive impact on many other families from refugee communities when the family killed themselves. From what they understood, the family had died as a result of being told they were going to be made destitute and many people empathised with what they had done."
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