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Israel jails 'failed to prevent' Prisoner X suicide

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israel's prison service caused the death of an Australian-Israeli who reportedly worked for Mossad by failing to prevent him from committing suicide in jail, a court document released on Thursday said.

Ben Zygier, who was initially known as "Prisoner X" before the Australian press identified him as an agent for Israel's famed intelligence service, was found hanged in a supposedly suicide-proof cell in a prison near Tel Aviv in December 2010.

The document revealed details on his background and imprisonment, indicating he was suicidal, had had an emotionally-charged exchange with his wife the day he was found hanged, and that his cell was not properly watched by prison guards.

Written at the end of 2010 by Justice Daphna Blatman Kedrai of Rishon LeTzion magistrate's court, the document was released on Thursday following a petition by the Israeli media.

But it sheds no light on his arrest, his alleged crime or his trial, details of which "remain under gag orders," wrote Blatman Kedrai.

"The investigation of the sad death of the deceased reveals alleged evidence that negligence by various functionaries in the IPS (Israel's prison service) caused his death," wrote Blatman Kedrai.

"I have found alleged evidence of the guilt of functionaries in the IPS in causing the deceased's death," she said.

After ruling out the possible involvement of anyone else in causing Zygier's death, the report notes that when he arrived at Ayalon prison on March 3, 2010, he was suffering from emotional distress, with social workers involved in his case warning he was suicidal.

The problem was not handled with any urgency, and although his cell was supposed to be under constant surveillance, the wardens did not sufficiently monitor the cameras at the time of Zygier's death, it said.

"The duty of care to him was violated," Blatman Kedrai wrote.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/israel-jails-failed-prevent-prisoner-x-suicide