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As thousands of prisoners across the country entered the seventh day of a hunger strike in protest at detention conditions, a 30-year-old inmate was in critical condition after allegedly trying to hang himself in the cell of a jail in central Greece.
Christos Tsibanis was transferred to the intensive-care unit of a hospital in Lamia yesterday after guards at Domoko Prison found him hanging in his cell. According to an organization supporting protesting prisoners, it took jail guards 40 minutes to respond to calls for help by Tsibanis’s fellow inmates. When the guards finally did arrive, they put handcuffs on the 30-year-old before transferring him to the hospital, a spokesperson for the organization said.
It was unclear whether the 30-year-old is one of some 5,500 inmates believed to be on hunger strike or whether he is a drug addict, as most inmates who attempt suicide tend to be. The death of a 32-year-old inmate in Grevena jail last week is believed to have been drug-related.
The organization supporting the prisoners is insisting on a meeting between a group of inmates and Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, who last week pledged to ease overcrowding and introduce a methadone program for heroin addicts in prison. Inmates have rejected the proposed reforms as “inadequate.”
A delegation from the Thessaloniki Bar Association, which visited the local Diavata Jail on Saturday, expressed shock at the extent of the overcrowding. Cells designed to hold four inmates are occupied by as many as 10 men, they observed. The visitors also noted serious shortages in the medical care available for inmates.