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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Briton found dead in Australian detention centre

Briton found dead in Australian detention centre

By Joe Sinclair, PA

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A British man who died in an Australian immigration centre today has been named by sources as 29-year-old David Saunders.

Mr Saunders, who was due to be deported, is believed to have committed suicide.

He is the third person to die at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney in as many months, prompting calls for an investigation into how the centre is run.

The man was discovered not breathing in his high-security accommodation block at about 3.20am.

A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said: "CPR was commenced immediately and an ambulance called but the man was pronounced dead by New South Wales Ambulance officers.

"Police will investigate the circumstances around the man's death which may become the subject of a coroner's inquest.

"The deceased had been detained for breaching his visa conditions and was on a removal pathway."

It is understood the man, who had no further avenues for appeal, was wanted in the UK for serious criminal offences.

Other detainees told refugee activists Mr Saunders took his own life.

Tensions are running high at the immigration centre where two previous apparent suicides sparked week-long protests and hunger strikes.

Fijian Josefa Rauluni, 36, threw himself off a building at Villawood on September 20, hours before he was due to be flown home, and Iraqi Ahmad Al Eqabi was found dead in his shower on November 16.

Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition, called for an immediate inquiry into the detention regime, saying: "The immigration department cannot explain this away. Something must be done to break the vicious downward spiral that has developed at Villawood.

"The government's addiction to such an authoritarian and punitive detention regime is literally costing people's lives. How many more lives will it take before the government puts a stop to it?"

Mr Saunders reportedly told other detainees he had been in Australia for six months and in the high-security "stage one" area for over a month.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm there has been a death of a British national in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre today.

"We are in contact with local authorities.

"Next of kin have been informed and we stand ready to provide consular assistance to them."

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