GERMANY POLICE TERROR JABER AL-BAKR.jpg
Saxony's Justice Minister Sebastian Gemkow speaks about the death of suspect in custody, Jaber al-Bakr, during a press conference in Dresden, Germany, 13 October 2016. Jaber al-Bakr, who was arrested on suspicion of terrorism, was found hanged in his cell in the Leipzig prison on 12 October 2016.
Photograph: EPA/ARNO BURGI

German lawmakers have slammed the suicide of a Syrian terrorist suspect in his cell as a "fiasco" and a "tragedy" as police and justice officials face pressure on why the high-risk 22-year-old was able to take his own life.

Jaber al-Bakr was found hanged in his cell at a prison in Leipzig late Wednesday, two days after he was arrested on suspicion of planning a bomb attack on a German airport.

His defence lawyer Alexander Huebner said he had been informed his client was under constant surveillance. However, the tabloid Bild reported that the Syrian's cell was only checked at intervals of a little under one hour.

In comments to Deutschlandfunk, Green politician Konstantin von Notz called the suicide a "fiasco" of the justice system in the eastern state of Saxony.

Wolfgang Bosbach of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats called the suspect's death a "tragedy," adding that "an important source of information" had been lost.

The investigation has been a series of embarrassments for police in Saxony since al-Bakr narrowly avoided arrest in a raid on his flat on Saturday.

He was later captured and handed over to police by three Syrian refugees. Sources have told dpa that al-Bakr had accused the refugees of complicity in the planned attack, but the veracity of that claim is unclear.

Sebastian Gemkow, Saxon's minister of justice, said he would give further details regarding the suicide at a press conference at 11 am (0900 GMT).

Latest news

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for "The Truth" with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.

Trump blasts Mexico as top diplomat holds talks in Mexico City

US President Donald Trump expressed ambivalence about the US relationship with Mexico as he blasted the country Thursday for what he claims is an unfair trade relationship.

Croat accused of rioting at UEFA 2016 game goes on trial

The trial of Ivan Vucenovic, 21, accused of causing rioting during a European soccer championship match between Croatia and the Czech Republic in Saint Etienne, France last June, began at the Sibenik Municipal Court on Thursday.

Schools blocked, 26 arrests in Paris protests against police abuses

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday in protests against alleged police brutality, with local media reporting that 16 secondary schools were forced to shut.