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Family of Asian attack victim accuse prosecutors of institutional racism

The family of an Asian man who died after he was punched has called for a public inquiry into their brother’s case on the fifth anniversary of his killing.

Thirty-seven-year-old Brij Sharma died in the Co Derry village of Moneymore five years ago after he was assaulted in the street.

The Sharma family, supported by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethinic minorities (NICEM), said there was evidence of “institutional racism” in how their brother’s case was handled by the Public Prosecution Service.

NICEM director Patrick Yu said the prosecution case proceeded on the basis of Mr Sharma being punched once despite medical evidence of two punches.

Mr Sharma’s death left his wife Heather, two teenage children, his two brothers and mother.

At a Press conference yesterday his eldest brother Bharat Sharam said: “Basically, after any death you have to get on with your life. But you need closure and you need to be assured that everything was done according to regulations and rules, but we haven’t had that reassurance.”

One man pleaded guilty to manslaughter of the father-of-two and was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

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But the victim's brother claimed the sentence was too lenient and has been campaigning for the incident to be re-classified as a racist attack. The family felt “let down” by the manslaughter conviction and the fact that Stephen McGlone was sentenced to only 17 months.

The family have lived in Northern Ireland for 33 years.

“Our family had a lot of faith in the system but there is a failing in our brother’s case,” Mr Sharma said.

“If we are all equal human beings, what has gone on in my brother’s case and what is the value in Northern Ireland of the life of a person who comes from an ethnic minority?”

Action was taken against the lead detective and a family liaison officer who were involved in the probe of Mr Sharma’s murder.

But the Police Ombudsman's office, which examined the case on the back of complaints by Mr Sharma's family, said there was no evidence of racist attitudes within the police team working on the case.

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