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Dragging victim abused at S.African police station: prosecutor

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An Mozambican immigrant was found in a pool of blood after he was handcuffed and dragged behind a South African police van and brought to a cell bleeding and crying, in the latest scandal to dog the country's police force, a court heard on Monday.

Taxi driver Mido Macia, 27, was brutally abused before and after his arrest two weeks ago, prosecutor December Mthimunye said at a bail hearing for nine policemen charged with his murder.

"The deceased died of internal injuries that demonstrate the degree of violence inflicted," said Mthimunye, reading a police watchdog investigator's affidavit.

Bystanders on February 26 filmed Macia being manhandled, handcuffed to the back of the van and dragged hundreds of metres on the streets of Daveyton, a town east of Johannesburg.

Just over two hours later he was found dead in his cell, with extensive injuries, including cuts and bleeding on the brain.

Investigators ordered two autopsies after the diplomatic embarrassment over the incident.

Internal police investigator Mandla Mahlangu later "saw him lying and bleeding in his cell."

He had blood "even in his heart", Mthimunye said, quoting the postmortem report. "And this happened in the police station."

Macia was already injured when he arrived at the station, contrary to police claims, he said.

"He was crying and bleeding and he already had some open head wounds," he said, adding: "When he was booked into his cell he was not wearing any trousers."

The accused officers "flouted operational procedures" by not even calling an ambulance, Mthimunye added.

On Friday the nine policemen told the hearing at the Benoni magistrate's court they were not guilty.

They said Macia, a minibus taxi driver, had assaulted a policeman while resisting arrest after being confronted for parking his taxi on the wrong side of the road.

The police van driver claimed he drove away to escape the angry crowd that had gathered, and did not know Macia was being dragged behind.

None of the accused explained how the Mozambican ended up cuffed to the van or dead in his cell.

Footage of the incident went viral and sent shock waves across the world, a spotlight yet again on the conduct of South Africa's much maligned police force.

The Macia family plans to sue the police ministry for damages, their lawyers said Sunday.

Around 2,000 people attended Macia's funeral in his hometown Matola in southern Mozambique on Saturday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130311/dragging-victim-abused-at-safrican-police-station-prosecutor