Coroner sheds light on prison death by fire

Questions have arisen over the death of a 36-year-old man, burned alive in his jail cell over the weekend, after a coroner’s report showed that the man’s hands had been handcuffed. Coroner Ioannis Christoforidis said an autopsy showed that Vassilis Karaleftheris, jailed for drug possession in Ptolemaida, northern Greece, had suffered severe burns and died of asphyxiation and heart failure. Late yesterday police admitted to having handcuffed the man due to his «violent behavior,» and said he had been monitored by closed-circuit TV. On Sunday they claimed it was impossible to save the prisoner as he had blocked his cell entrance with two mattresses set on fire. Police had to wait for the fire brigade, which arrived five minutes later, as the cell’s doorlock had jammed from the heat caused by the fire.

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