WASHINGTON: The US military disclosed on Monday that a detainee at their prison facility, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, has died. However, the name and nationality of the detainee are yet to be disclosed.
In a statement released by the US Southern Command, the detainee was said to have passed away on Saturday afternoon. “While conducting routine checks, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF) guards found the detainee unconscious and unresponsive. The guards immediately performed first aid and summoned medical personnel to the scene. The corpsmen provided emergency medical treatment and quickly transported the detainee to Naval Hospital Guantanamo. After extensive lifesaving measures had been performed, the detainee was pronounced dead by a physician.”
The press release said that the name of the detainee was being withheld “pending notification of the detainee’s government and family”, adding that his remains were being treated “with respect for Islamic culture and traditions.”
US Southern Command said that an autopsy would be carried out, following which the remains would be prepared for repatriation. An investigation has already been initiated into the circumstances surrounding the event, said the US military.
The death of the detainee at Guantanamo Bay brings the total number of detainees at the US Naval Base to 167. This is the ninth death at the detention facility, with the majority of the deaths being suicides.
The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay holds detainees from several countries who were picked up following the attacks by al Qaeda on the US on September 11, 2001. In the past, several detainees have been subjected to inhumane treatment at the detention facility. US President Barack Obama had vowed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in his first year of office, but has been unable to do so. Members of Congress have also opposed the transfer of detainees and closure of the facility.
A spokesperson for JTF-Guantanamo, Captain Durand, said that the detainee was found motionless and unresponsive by the guard force.
Durand said that the detainee had been assigned to Camp V – a maximum security facility.
He added that the reason the detainee had been in “disciplinary status following a “splashing incident”.
“He had recently assaulted a guard with a “cocktail” – usually a food tray containing feces, urine and other bodily fluids.”
“The detainee was not on a hunger striking at the time of death. He was a hunger striker who would often take supplemental enteral feeds. He declared himself to be no longer a hunger striker on June 1, but continued to be medically monitored. Recently, his weight was recorded at 95% of his ideal body weight and 14lbs heavier than he was when he arrived at Guantanamo,” said Captain Durand.
The spokesperson added that they could not speculate on the cause of death at the time.