Speaking at a press conference of Thursday morning, prison direct Rolf Jacob said that Jaber Albakr had been assessed on Tuesday morning by “a very experienced” psychologist, who told them that he did not pose an “acute suicide risk”.
Albakr, who was suspected of having planned to attack a Berlin airport with explosives, discussed living conditions in the prison with the psychologist and appeared calm, Jacob said.
Based on the advice of the psychologist, the prison had only checked Albakr's cell every half hour. During one of these checks at 7.45 pm on Wednesday, a guard found the young man had hung himself using a shirt provided to him by the prison. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
The justice system in Saxony has come in for stinging criticism since it emerged on Wednesday evening that Albakr had killed himself, with MPs describing it as a “fiasco” and “a tragedy”.
The young Syrian's lawyer, Alexander Hübner, meanwhile said that there had been various indications that his client could be suicidal, including that Albakr had ripped the light from the ceiling of his cell and had manipulated the electric sockets in the wall.
“I only need to mention his hunger strike and his refusal to take in liquids. That is a pretty clear indication that someone wants to do himself harm,” Hübner told Focus.
Jacob acknowledged that both of these events had taken place and had been discussed by the prison authorities.
However, he said that the damage to the light was believed to be an act of vandalism, while the manipulation of the sockets was not recognized as a suicide attempt because at that time no electricity was running through them.
Early last Saturday, police closed in on Albakr's communist-era flat in the eastern city of Chemnitz, but he managed to slip away after they fired a warning shot, sparking a weekend-long, nationwide manhunt and high alerts at railway stations and airports.
In his flat, police discovered 1.5 kilograms of TATP, the homemade explosive that was used by Isis jihadists in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
Investigators said the explosives were "almost ready or even ready for use," and that he was apparently preparing a "bomb, possibly in the form of a suicide vest" to attack an airport in Berlin.