French mayor commits suicide in jail

24th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The mayor of a resort town in southwestern France committed suicide overnight in his prison cell, five months after his arrest for corruption, a prosecutor said Sunday.

PERPIGNAN - The mayor of a resort town in southwestern France committed suicide overnight in his prison cell, five months after his arrest for corruption, a prosecutor said Sunday.

Jacques Bouille used the belt of his bathrobe to hang himself in his jail cell in Perpignan where prison guards found him during their routine rounds, said local prosecutor Jean-Pierre Dreno.

Bouille, who was mayor of the seaside village of Saint-Cyprien near France's border with Spain, left a letter to his wife saying he wanted to end his life, said Dreno.

"Since he was jailed, he had become depressed. He had low morale," Dreno told AFP.

Bouille, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, was arrested in December for corruption, money-laundering, influence-peddling and other charges over the disappearance of several art works purchased by the town.

Ten other people including town hall employees and Bouille's wife Marie-Antoinette were arrested following the investigation into the art scam.

The prosecutor said a formal probe would be opened to establish the cause of Bouille's death while in detention.

While authorities knew he was psychologically fragile, no special measures were put in place because he was under the care of the prison psychiatrist, said Dreno.

A rights group, Ban Public, separately said Bouille's suicide brought to 58 the number of self-inflicted deaths in French prisons so far this year.

The Council of Europe has criticised France's prison system and singled out overcrowding as among the worst in western Europe.

The 47-nation organisation estimates that prison suicides in France are double that of Germany and Britain and three times that of Spain.

AFP / Expatica

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