Germany investigates terror suspect’s suicide in jail

German police and prison officers are under pressure after heavy criticism over failing to prevent the suspected plotter's suicide while in custody.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

22-year-old Syrian named Jaber Al-Bakr

Politicians in Germany demanded answers from Saxony state officials after a Syrian man suspected of plotting to bomb attack in a Berlin airport strangled himself to death with his t-shirt in jail.

On Thursday, Saxony’s Justice Minister Sebastian Gemkow said the 22-year-old Jaber al-Bakr took his own life in Leipzig jail on Wednesday.

“This should not have happened even though we did everything we could to prevent it," said Gemkow.

Bakr’s defence lawyer Alexander Huebner described the case a scandal of justice as Bakr “should have been Germany’s best-guarded prisoner”.

Prison in Leipzig, eastern Germany

Huebner said his client’s breaking light bulbs and tampering with power sockets should have been signal enough for him to be on close suicide watch.

He added Bakr had also been on a hunger strike directly after his arrest on Monday.  

Rolf Jacob, the head of the prison, told reporters that the damage was assessed as vandalism rather than an indication of potential suicide.

Jacob also added that the original supervision of 15 minute intervals was decreased to 30 minute check-ups and that there was no video monitoring of prisoners held in remand cells in Saxony.

On Saturday, police raided Bakr’s house and found same explosives that was used in deadly attacks in Paris and in Brussel.

German authorities believe that Bakr had links to Daesh.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German TV that Bakr’s death had made the task of investigating the suspected Berlin airport bomb plot much harder.

Despite a decline in suicide cases over the 15 years in Germany, the country still has the highest suicide rate among EU states in prison. According to statistics published by the Council of Europe, it comprises 41 percent of all deaths in detention.

TRTWorld and agencies