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Answers sought over custody death

Published 07/06/2015

Sheku Bayor died in police custody
Sheku Bayor died in police custody

The family of Sheku Bayoh who died after being held by police last month say they will not rest until they get answers.

A funeral was held in Kirkcaldy, Fife, today for the 31-year-old whose death is being investigated by Scotland's police watchdog.

His family's lawyer said the cause of death has not yet been established and asked why no officer has been suspended since Mr Bayoh's death on May 3.

More than 250 people turned out to show their support in the town today, taking part in a procession to Kirkcaldy police station where a two-minute silence was held for the father-of-two.

Friends and relatives including his partner Collette Bell and his mother Aminita said goodbye to Mr Bayoh, who was originally from Sierra Leone, at a service at Dysart Muslim Cemetery.

Mourners dressed in light blue - his favourite colour - instead of black, and many wore "justice for Sheku" t-shirts and wrist bands.

His elder sister Kosna told a packed meeting at Temple Hall Community Centre: "He may have been laid to rest today but we won't rest until we get justice."

An investigation into Mr Bayoh's death is being undertaken by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said officers had been responding to a call of a man brandishing a knife on Hayfield Road.

Campaigners have questioned the level and appropriateness of any force used in his detention and criticised the reported delay in officers giving statements to PIRC.

The body said this week that officers had agreed to provide statements after ''several attempts'' to secure them.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar told today's meeting: "Nobody should be allowed to evade accountability or to frustrate the investigation process and Sheku Bayoh's family will not rest until they have the truth.

"They have put their total faith in the Lord Advocate and in the PIRC ... but the family will accept nothing less than a robust, independent, transparent and impartial inquiry.

"I hope the people who are gathered here today, his friends, the people who worked with him, the people of Scotland, will support this family in their struggle for truth."

Mr Bayoh was described by Mr Anwar as a "fit and healthy" man who was training to be a gas engineer.

Ms Bell, mother of his son Issac, wiped away tears as she read a poem in memory of her partner and his mother Aminita told the people gathered: "I will never forget him, he's the only son I have. We want the truth."

Professor Peter Watson of PBW Law, who represents the police officers involved, said: "Everyone acknowledges that this is an extremely serious incident and requires investigation.

"The police officers involved, including the female officer who was attacked, have been happy to cooperate from the outset but it was the responsibility of PIRC to declare the officers' status and that is a basic legal requirement. This was officially confirmed on June 2."

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