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Vaud prison death reveals shortcomings

The head of canton Vaud’s prison system has lost her job following the death of an inmate in March whom guards failed to rescue after he set his cell on fire.

This content was published on July 8, 2010 - 18:45

Catherine Martin had left her post "by common accord" and with immediate effect, according to Philippe Leuba, head of the interior department of canton Vaud, on Thursday, after the publication of a report on the case.

Leuba said Martin “lacked the ability to tackle the necessary reforms”.

According to the report, written by Claude Rouiller, a former head of the Federal Court, the guards lacked sufficient training and had “taken regulations to ridiculous lengths” when they refused to intervene on the grounds that a “dangerous” prisoner could not be taken out of his cell unless special forces were present.

They had forgotten the main thing, which was to give immediate help to a person in danger. Medical aides had also followed the rules too closely rather than acting.

However, Rouiller said no-one had shown “deliberate callousness” or had wanted the prisoner to die.

Skander Vogt, who was aged 30 when he died of smoke inhalation, had had an “indescribable” childhood which had left him with a deeply disturbed personality, the report said.

The case sparked an outcry at the time, when the warders were said to have referred to Vogt as an “idiot”. The media reported that it took special police 90 minutes to arrive.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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