By Peter Stevenson
JUSTICE Minister Ionas Nicolaou has ordered a criminal and disciplinary investigation into this year’s third suicide at the Central Prisons in Nicosia, which happed on Saturday evening.
At around 9.50pm on Saturday, a 27-year-old Kurdish convict from Syria hanged himself with his shoe-laces despite being in solitary confinement and supposedly under strict watch.
According to reports the 27-year-old had made previous attempts to take his own life and one day before his suicide had been admitted to hospital after attempting to slit his wrists.
Following his release he was placed in solitary confinement in a special cell, on suicide watch but officers failed to remove his shoe-laces. It is common procedure to remove any items which inmates can use to harm themselves following an attempted suicide but according to reports, prison guards allegedly failed to remove the man’s laces.
The guards also allegedly failed to keep the Kurdish man under strict observation, giving him the opportunity to hang himself.
The inmate had roughly one month left to serve of a one-year sentence for drug possession and was due to be deported back to Syria once his term came to an end.
According to reports the 27-year-old had recently learned that his mother and two of his nieces had been killed during the troubles in Syria and had made numerous attempts to commit suicide.
Nicolaou told the public broadcaster CyBC that he had ordered both a criminal and disciplinary investigation into the matter and expects the Prison Governor’s report next Monday before making any decisions.
He said he would discuss with Health Minister Petros Petrides the possibility of moving any inmates who are deemed to have psychological issues to the Athalassa Mental Hospital. Nicolaou added that there would need to be a stronger police presence at the mental hospital if this was to happen.
In August a 26-year-old convict was found hanged in his cell.
The man had been jailed for 12 years for killing his sister by hitting her over the head more than 50 times with a laptop in the family’s Nicosia home in January 2012.
He was found guilty of manslaughter. The 26-year-old killed his sister following an argument at their home in Latsia. Some three hours after the killing he called police and gave himself up.
The family – a quadriplegic mother, her daughter the victim who had a congenital condition limiting mobility to her lower limbs, and the killer son – were all under psychiatric observation and were receiving help from social services.
Their mother was upstairs in bed when the attack took place at around 4.30am. At the time, the Cyprus Mail learned that the brother had stopped seeing his psychiatrist and taking his medication six months previously.
Nicolaou ordered an investigation into the suicide a few days later but no result has been announced by the justice ministry.
On July 18, a 42 year-old man who was in prison awaiting trial on charges of arson, fixed for September, also committed suicide in his cell.