Police and CPS accused of racism after Christopher Kapessa's death" width="976" height="549">
Christopher Kapessa's body was found in a river on 1 July
The family of a teenager who died in a river has accused the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and South Wales Police of institutional racism over a failure to prosecute over his death. The body of Christopher Kapessa, 13, was found in the River Cynon, near Fernhill, Rhondda Cynon Taff on 1 July. The family said the CPS had indicated there was "sufficient evidence" to consider a manslaughter prosecution. The CPS and South Wales Police have been approached for comment. In a letter to the family, seen by BBC Wales, the CPS said there was not a "public interest" in pursuing the manslaughter case against the suspect - a boy - who they believe had pushed Christopher into the river.
Tributes were left to Christopher at the scene after his death
What happenedBut serious concerns were raised by the family and their lawyer Hilary Brown, who complained that only four of the 14 young people who were at the scene of Christopher's death had been interviewed by police officers.
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In a letter to the family last Wednesday, the CPS said there was "sufficient evidence to support a charge of unlawful act of manslaughter". It added the suspect is "mature and intelligent for his age" and had a "good school record". The letter, seen by BBC Wales, also said: "There was clear evidence that the suspect pushed Christopher in the back with both hands causing him to fall into the river. "That push was an unlawful act and it was clearly dangerous in that on an objective standard it created a danger of some harm."It added that the evidence suggested the push was "not in an effort to harm someone" but "ill considered".
Police focused on a bridge over the River Cynon during investigations
Family 'perplexed'
Christopher's mother, Alina Joseph, said: "From the start, South Wales Police baffled us by being unable to answer many of the most basic of our questions. "If this had been 14 black youths and a white victim we have no doubt that the approach of the police and outcome would have been different. "We know that family members of the 14 young people involved demanded the police come and interview their children, whose account was radically different from the four principle suspects."The decision made by the CPS leaves us feeling confused and perplexed as to how some can callously lie about my son's death, inflicting more pain and anxiety on us for the last eight months, and it is the suspect's human rights that prevail... whilst prosecution over my son's death is deemed as not being in the public interest."
Campaigners have compared the handling of the investigation with the Stephen Lawrence case in 1993
The family's lawyer Hilary Brown, said: "The decision of the CPS is disappointing in light of the fact that they confirmed that the evidential threshold was met for bringing a charge of manslaughter against a young man."Christopher died not as a result of a 'tragic accident' as South Wales Police initially concluded, but as a consequence and direct result of being 'pushed' into the river."Lee Jasper, of BAME Lawyers, compared the case with the handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation in 1993 and said the British justice system was a "racial lottery". Several campaign groups, including Racism Alliance Wales, Cardiff Stand Up To Racism, Women Connect First and Black Association of Women Stepping Out have all expressed their concern over the handling of Christopher's death. An Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation into South Wales Police's handling of the case is still ongoing.
Crown Prosecution Service
Mountain Ash
South Wales Police
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