By Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald –
MIAMI — A Guantanamo captive was found dead in his cell on Saturday afternoon and an investigation is under way, a spokesman for the U.S. detention center said Monday afternoon.
Navy Capt. Robert Durand would not identify the dead man, saying the military was waiting until his family was notified of the death to disclose his name, age or native country.
Asked whether foul play was suspected, Durand said the detainee was found unconscious and unresponsive in his cell during a routine check. Guards and military medical staff attempted first-aid and other life-saving techniques but could not revive him, the Navy captain said.
“The cause of death is under investigation,” Durand said, noting the range of possible reasons appeared to be either “natural or self-inflicted.”
Durand said a pathology and mortuary affairs team was brought to the remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba on Sunday to attend to the dead man. A Muslim imam was brought in as well, said Durand, to make sure the dead man received Islamic rites.
The latest death raises to nine the number of detainees who have died in Guantanamo custody since the prison camps were established in January 2002. Two of the deaths were attributed to natural causes, one of colon cancer and the other of a suspected heart attack. The military characterized the other six as suicides.
The latest death, announced on the eve of Sept. 11 commemorations at the Navy base and across the United States, lowered the detainee population to 167 at the detention center.
The Pentagon’s Southern Command in Miami first disclosed word of the death to national news outlets just before noon EDT on Monday, after members of Congress were notified that a detainee was dead. “The release was distributed once congressional notification was completed,” said Southcom’s Jose Ruiz, in response to a question of why it took so long to disclose the information.