An undisclosed Guantanamo Bay prisoner died over the weekend after guards at the US detention facility found him unconscious in his cell. The prisoner died in solitary confinement, in Camp 5, that holds those who have violated prison rules.
The prisoner was placed in solitary confinement after splashing a guard with a “cocktail,” a mixture of food and bodily fluids, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison.
The Navy also confirmed that the deceased had been on hunger strike, which he ended on June 1st. At that time the prisoners weight was 95 percent of his ideal body weight and 6 kilos heavier than when he came to Guantanamo, the spokesman said.
Duran has also added that the departed was not one of the high-profile detainees currently being tried by the military commissions at Guantanamo.
The US government is in the process of notifying the prisoner’s family, while an investigation into the cause of death has been launched by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
A mortuary team will wash and place the body in a shroud in accordance with Islamic burial rites, before it is shipped back to the prisoner’s homeland, he said.
The news came the same day the US transferred control of the notorious Bagram military detention facility in Afghanistan to local authorities. The US handed over 3,082 detainees to Afghan control but the transfer of about 600 prisoners who were detained after the handover agreement was signed on March 9, this year, is still in process.
This weekend’s death became the ninth such occurrence since Guantanamo opened its doors in 2002. The military has said two of those deaths were by natural causes and six were declared suicides.
The most recent death was in April 2011, when a 37-year-old Afghan prisoner died in an apparent suicide. Two Saudis and a Yemeni prisoner were found hanging in their cells in June 2006 in what the military determined was a coordinated suicide.
In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo. But a decision on the specifics of such a plan was postponed and in 2011, he issued an executive order permitting the indefinite detention of Guantanamo detainees.
The notorious prison began operations to hold suspected terrorists, linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, following the 9/11 terror attacks.
With indefinite detentions and documented use of torture, Guantanamo has put a black mark on America’s already spotty human rights record. Within the last decade of the War on Terror, about 800 people have passed through the camp.
At the moment the prison houses 169 detainees, about half of whom were cleared for release but have few prospects of obtaining freedom due to a ban on transfers from Guantanamo. As for the rest of the captives, some of them have a shot at a military hearing, but most of them do not have even that chance because the government says they cannot be tried for one reason or another, while the US Supreme Court keeps refusing to take up Guantanamo detainees’ petitions.