Suspect Swiss jail fire death sparks probe into guards
Swiss judicial authorities said Monday that they were investigating the death of a prisoner after media reported that guards delayed intervening for 90 minutes following a fire in his cell.
"An investigation was opened to shed light on the circumstances that led to the death of (Skander) Vogt," an investigating magistrate in the western Swiss canton of Vaud, Daniel Stoll, told AFP.
Vogt, 30, died of suffocation from smoke inhalation in his cell at Bochuz prison on March 11, reportedly after setting fire to his mattress overnight.
Transcripts of phone calls involving prison officials, police and rescue services published by Swiss newspaper Le Matin indicated that staff had delayed fully intervening as they waited for special units to deal with the high security detainee.
French radio RTL broadcast what it said were extracts of the recordings on Sunday in which some of those involved appeared to make insulting or mocking comments about Vogt while he was suffocating.
After one guard remarked that he could die after 50 minutes of breathing smoke, a colleague reportedly replied: "Yeah, well that'll do him some good."
Local authorities also launched an inquiry into the leak of the recordings on Monday, Swiss news agency ATS reported, amid a local political storm over the incident and Vogt's case.
Vogt had been kept in prison since 2001, well beyond the original 20-month sentence he was serving, because of repeat violent offences committed while in jail.
He was "considered extremely dangerous by experts," a spokesman for Vaud regional authorities said.
© 2010 AFP