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A judicial inquiry in Israel found Zygier, 34, hanged himself in December 2010 with a sheet tied to the bars over a window in the bathroom of the heavily guarded cell where had been kept under alias and secluded from other prisoners.
Carr ordered an investigation into the case last month, saying he would ask Israel’s government to explain how Zygier, a father of two who had lived in Israel for 10 years, managed to kill himself while tightly supervised. His death fuelled conspiracy theories in both countries. Israel says it is investigating possible negligence by prison guards.
Carr said Israel had not responded to requests for information, nor explained the lack of a response. Australian officials and intelligence agencies still did not know why Zygier was jailed and what charges he faced, except that the charges carried a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
“SECURITY AFFAIR OF THE UTMOST GRAVITY”
Israel has said Zygier consented to his secret detention, to stem what it deemed as dangers to national interests from his exposure. That assertion has not been contested by his lawyers.
“This was a security affair of the utmost gravity. The damage to national security that was liable to have been caused, and apparently was caused, was most grave,” Israeli prosecutor Raz Nizri told Israel’s Channel One television on Tuesday.
Carr’s inquiry found shortcomings in the handling of the case by Australian authorities, but noted that Zygier had received 50 visits from his family and lawyer between the time of his arrest and death.
Carr had initially said the Australian government had not been informed of Zygier’s incarceration. He later acknowledged Australia’s chief intelligence agency had been informed about the issue as early as February 2010.
Australia’s former prime minister Kevin Rudd, prime minister at the time of Zygier’s arrest, on Wednesday said he was not informed of the arrest by his own intelligence agencies.
Rudd also said he was not told of Zygier’s detention ahead of his visit to Israel as foreign minister from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, 2010, when he met both Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister. Zygier died in custody on Dec. 15.