Immigrant death in ‘police action’ dent Canada’s image

August 17th, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Aug 17 (IANS) The death of two European immigrants, allegedly from the use of taser - an electric shock weapon - used by police, have put the Canadian government in a tight spot. The Italian ambassador has mounted an attack on Canada for the taser death of an Italian immigrant last year.

Claudio Castagnetta, 32, who died in police custody in Quebec City last September, was allegedly shocked with taser and later denied medical care.

Italian ambassador Barriele Sardo said Friday that the delay to “find out what happened is not acceptable. You expect that possibly in some distressed, out-of-control African place - but not on this continent”.

Taser deaths, he told CanWest news agency, were eroding the image of Canada abroad.

“People will wake up to this reality, so before taking a trip to Canada you’d better be aware that you can be shot with a taser under some conditions and these are not the ones one would reasonably expect across the (Atlantic) ocean,” the ambassador said.

This was not the first time the country got bad publicity on a taser death. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) tasered to death a newly arrived Polish immigrant at Vancouver airport in October.

Forty-year-old Robert Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, met his death at the hands of the cops on his very first day on Canadian soil.

He was pinned down and then tasered when he became restive after failing to find his waiting mother, who had already settled in Canada, after a 10-hour wait.

No heads rolled as the cops were just shifted and an inquiry ordered, forcing Poland to talk tough with Ottawa.

The Polish foreign ministry demanded tough action against police officers for their “excessively brutal and unjustified” actions.

Since the victim didn’t understand English, the Polish ministry said: “No attempts were made to use other means to solve the situation, but from the very start the toughest means available to the police was used.

“We want the matter clarified and we want those guilty named and prosecuted.”

The Polish consul general in Vancouver went on to say, “Can you imagine that similar situation happened to a Canadian citizen in any European country? What would the Canadian government do in a similar situation?”

The use of taser by police is under review by Canadian authorities.

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