Zygier's Cell Was Not Suicide-proof nor Under Supervision, Says Prisons Chief

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Aharon Franco, commissioner of the Prison Service, told his senior staff Tuesday that the cell in which Ben Zygier committed suicide in December 2010 was not specially supervised, nor was it considered suicide-proof.

Franco told the service's top brass Tuesday that he was "briefed about the suicide of the detainee, and about the concept of his imprisonment which stressed the importance of his isolation from other prisoners for security reasons. Therefore the cell he was placed in was not a supervised cell or a cell for prevention of suicide as we have today."

Prison Service officials were aware from the moment the Zygier affair was published that they would be the first to pay the price. They insist that the passages in Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai's report that were released were intended solely to clear the Mossad from suspicion of involvement in Zygier's death, and do not reflect the general outline of the event.

Prison officials argue that the parts not released, including the conditions under which Zygier was held and the level of supervision he was subject to, would have given a broader picture of the event.

The fact that not all the report was published puts the service in a complex situation. "The duties the Prison Service had to carry out in the deceased's case were especially difficult and complex, due to the secrecy, the need for isolation, different gaps in the information received, and even partial compartmentalization of the supervision directives themselves," Blatman Kedrai wrote in her report.

The service would have preferred that the issue of supervision orders be made public.

As to the service's conduct afterward, here, too, prison officials point to mitigating circumstances. They note that the suicide occurred less than two weeks after the Carmel fire, which claimed the lives of wardens on the bus to Damon Prison, and add that most top prison officials were busy investigating the fire and attending memorials for the dead.

The isolation cell in which Ben Zygier, known as 'Prisoner X,' was incarcerated.Credit: Haaretz

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