Pubdate: Tue, 11 Dec 2001
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2001 BBC


A suspected drugs dealer is fighting for his life in the north German city 
of Hamburg, after police forced him to take an emetic to make him vomit up 
narcotics he had swallowed. The case has stirred up a new row over the use 
of emetics, which are being used in several German cities to secure 
evidence against narcotics suspects.

Several opposition politicians and Hamburg's medical association are 
calling for a halt to the forced administration of the drugs.

The case is also putting pressure on Hamburg's controversial new interior 
minister, former judge Ronald Schill, whose new Law and Order Offensive 
Party won a surprise 19% of the vote in the city-state's elections three 
months ago.

Mr Schill, nicknamed "the judge without mercy" for his rulings from the 
bench, has promised to clean up Hamburg's notorious drugs problem.

The wealthy city - Germany's second largest - has one of the highest crime 
rates in the country.

Mr Schill announced an investigation into the incident but also insisted 
that the authorities would continue to use emetics.

He said this was the first time that their use had caused serious medical 

The 19-year old alleged drugs dealer, an asylum seeker from Cameroon, was 
unlikely to survive, a spokeswoman of Hamburg's Justice Ministry said on 

The man had a heart attack on Sunday and fell into a coma after being given 
the herbal emetic ipecacuahna while in custody.

'I will die'

The suspect had resisted taking the substance, screaming "I will die" while 
several officers held him down, according to a local official.

Police later found 41 small capsules of crack cocaine in his stomach.

The leader of Hamburg's Green Party, Krista Sager, has called for a halt to 
the use of emetics, especially if administered against the will of a suspect.

Her demands were echoed by the city's medical association. Its president, 
Frank Ulrich Montgomery, said his organisation would support doctors who 
refuse to administer the drug.

But the police said it needs emetics to secure evidence against drugs dealers.

New rules

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, said the case highlighted 
serious shortfalls in way the authorities had handled a medical emergency.

Ironically, the use of emetics was first authorised by Hamburg's previous 
government - a coalition of Social Democrats, who ruled the city for 44 
years, and the Greens.

But only last week, Hamburg's new centre-right coalition relaxed the rules 
under which emetics can be administered.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart