Guantanamo detainee dies in apparent suicide

Published May 31, 2007

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A Saudi Arabian detainee died Wednesday at Guantanamo Bay prison, and the U.S. military said he apparently committed suicide.

Guards at the U.S. Naval Base in southeast Cuba found the detainee in his cell unresponsive and not breathing Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. military's Southern Command said in a statement.

"They tried to save his life, but he was pronounced dead, " said Mario Alvarez, a spokesman for the command.

It would be the fourth suicide at Guantanamo since the prison camp opened in January 2002. On June 10, 2006, two Saudi detainees and one Yemeni hanged themselves with sheets. Details, including the prisoner's name and manner of death, were not released.

A spokesman for detention operations, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, declined to comment, referring questions to the Southern Command, based in Miami.

The death came as the U.S. military prepared to try two detainees, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni, and Omar Khadr, a Canadian. Their arraignment is scheduled to proceed Monday at Guantanamo as planned, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said late Wednesday.

Khadr fired his American attorneys on Wednesday, leaving him without defense counsel as his arraignment approaches, his former U.S. military attorney said.

"He doesn't trust American lawyers, and I don't particularly blame him, " said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who was taken off the case Wednesday. "The United States is responsible for his interrogation and his treatment under a process that is patently unfair."

The military toughened security at the prison camp after the previous suicides and an uprising last spring, taking measures to remove access to light fixtures and other possible makeshift weapons.

About 380 men are held at the prison camp .

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is conducting an investigation into the three previous suicides.