2007-01-22 06:48:38
American Man Dies in Bahamas Police Custody
Central Detective Unit (CDU) officers from Grand Bahama were in Abaco over the weekend to investigate the death of an American man who died while in police custody.

Basil Rahming, Chief Superintendent, told a local newspaper that US citizen Mark Sapp was found hanging from his cell window in the Marsh Harbour police station shortly after 6:00pm Saturday.

Mr Sapp was allegedly discovered by a police officer who was about to escort him to Nassau. He was said to have been found with a cloth around his neck.

Just one day earlier, the 48-year-old American had been arraigned on an arson charge in connection with the fire at the Royal Palm condominiums in Treasure Cay on Friday January 12. The six-unit Royal Palm was reportedly destroyed in the blaze, resulting in a loss estimated to be in excess of $3 million.

One witness told a reporter that the American may have been part of an insurance scam and that he had to be disposed of because, "loose lips sink ships."

Police say that following his arrest after the fire, Sapp was flown to Nassau where he underwent a brief psychiatric evaluation at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

He was released from that facility last Wednesday and escorted back to Abaco where he was charged by the police on Thursday.

Mr Sapp was subsequently taken to court on Friday where following his arraignment he was remanded to Her Majesty's Prison until March 26.

Mr. Rahming said the man's death had, for the time being, been classified as a "suicide".

However, some people are reminded of an incident several years ago where police claimed they found a prisoner hanging in his cell at the Wulff Road police station in Nassau.

The inmate was reported to have been found hanging in his cell with officers explaining that he hung himself with his own socks. The incident was "investigated" by a police commission which, not surprisingly, exonerated the officers involved.

But circumstances surrounding the man's death were very suspicious. Family members testified that the victim never wore socks. His hands, which police officers had previously tied behind his back in order to restrain him, were still tied when his body was found, leading many to wonder how a man with his hands tied behind his back hung himself.

It is widely believed that the prisoner, accused of drug-trafficking, was murdered in his cell for threatening to expose the deep rooted connections between police officers at the Wulff Road Station and other drug dealers in the area.

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