CALL TO THE WARDERS: please make sure that prisoners in isolation have at least 8 large glasses of water per day, without which, these cells become as gas chambers, to reduce some prisoners in a state of vegetables or to kill them. (Picture: Auschwitz gas chamber)
Anyone sentenced to death will be dehydrated
The enquiry started by the forced dehydration of Marcel Vervloesem in the prison of Turnhout, which would have startled three Belgian senators and UNESCO. Their questions were invoked to hospitalise him on December 24 morning, two hours, the time of a minimal hydration and to control the extent of damage to his heart and kidneys, but not to stabilise his diabetes, maintained above the threshold of a hyper glycaemia coma for 12 days.
Gosh, you are strong, told the doctor to this good-natured grandfather. Marcel Vervloesem was sent back to prison for a unique motive: he can only be hospitalized a foot shackled at the hospital bed, and as he has already been shackled 591 hours for health reasons, this is enough. The dehydration would have occurred because he had drunk too much water, said the doctor. As we have never heard of a person who was dehydrated by drinking too much water, we analyzed the source of the problem.
The NGO Morkhoven exposes the sexual exploitation of children in charge of state institutions since 1988. Six governments have preferred to cover the corruption needed to such traffic, by eliminating Marcel Vervloesem, thanks to whom 7 missing children were found alive. He was accused of crimes that the physicians had recognized him unable to have executed. He was imprisoned, in consideration of his cancer metastasized three times, of the failures of his heart, kidneys, pancreas, his diabetes mellitus and his suicidal tendencies, while waiting for the European Court of Human Rights judges of the legality of a conviction based on an incomplete dossier.
He knocked on the door of the prison of Turnhout on September 5, 2008, and started suicidal hunger and thirst strike, joint to a request of respect of the constitutional rights of the victims and witnesses of paedophile networks. The first dehydration was thus explainable, but not the last one, which occurred at the moment of eight days in isolation, a regime of total restriction.
Marcel Vervloesem was confined in three isolation cells. The first one was in the infirmary of the prison of Bruges from 10 September to 8 October 2008. The second one was in isolation cell n° 92 of the Turnhout prison from 14 to 16 October 2008. The third one was the isolation cell n°3 of the same prison from 10th to 18th November 2009. These three isolation cells have blocked windows and a noisy blower of dry and hot air, while all other cells of both these prisons have windows that can be opened and central heating. The discomfort caused by the blower raised questions on the justifications for allowing the overhead in installation and energy of these blowers, by comparison to the extension of the normal central heating. We did not find any answer.
The isolation cells in the infirmary of the prison of Bruges, offers only putrid running water, possibly coming from the moat, by opposition to the other cells that provides normal town water. The direction forbids the guest to offer fresh water to the hunger-strikers. The warders have orders to give them only boiling water, which causes terrible pain on an empty stomach. The prisoners are banned from outdoor walks, thus from fresh and humidified air. They are also limited in the right to a shower. The isolation regime at the prison of Turnhout includes three measures that limit hydration: the prisoner has no access to a cup or to the canteen, which deprives him of control over how much water he drinks, and of waterlogged fruit or vegetable. The isolation also limits walks and showers.
Effect of dehydration in prison
The body loses about 0,35 litre of water per day, only by breathing, and 0,45 litre by the skin. This water loss increases by dry air and high temperatures, thus with the hot and dry air blower, matched with the deprivation of fresh air. The prisoner, who is also limited in fruits and vegetables, must necessarily drink more fresh water, a minimum of 2 litres per day.
Dehydration can be recognized by the quick loss of weight in water, which begins at 1% and is deadly as from 10%. The brain is composed of 75-85% water and controls the sensation of thirst, which indicates a loss of between 0.5 and 1.25 litre of water. The first signs of dehydration (over 3% of the weight) are irritability, dizziness and headaches. The concentration is then reduced by 13%, the memory of 7%, and the sensation of thirst is impaired.
The prisoner is maintained into a malaise similar to a constant hangover. Dehydration becomes visible to the naked eye by the "persistent skin fold" that shows on the back of the hand: the skin loses its elasticity. When it is lifted-up, it forms a fold that maintains up for more than two seconds without flattening. Long term dehydration shrinks the prisoner, because the discs between the vertebrae is dry out and collapse, which normally happens with age, when you don't feel the thirst as much. Dehydration destroys the kidneys, increases the blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The kidneys control the amount of water in the body. They filter the blood to leave only the nutrients and remove impurities by the urinary tract, but only if they have enough water. Dehydration shrinks the cells, thus affecting the impulses that stimulate muscle contraction of the heart. The blood, composed of 75% water, thickens, which forces the body to too much effort to make it circulate. Dehydration causes blindness because the cornea is made of 78% water. Extreme dehydration causes high fever, which is called "dehydration fever", which is fatal.
The stress inherent to detention, increased by a regime of isolation and by the discomfort of dehydration causes an increase in hormones, whose main function is to raise the level of blood sugar to provide an energy boost, and but also to produce endorphins, which inhibits the secretion of insulin. Because dehydration concentrates the blood, it concentrates the sugar rate, which causes vomiting to the diabetic patient. These sudden losses of water excellerate the dehydration, thus the step leading to the deadly "dehydration fever".
The first phase of hydration simply requires giving 1.5 litre of pure water per hour at the maximum, to drink in small sips. The next step requires putting the patient on a slow drip during 8 to 12 hours. Only the signs of impending death threats, such as a collapse or shock due to the high fever, justify hydration by putting the patient on quick drip of an isotonic saline serum enriched in macromolecules, at a rate of 0.5 litre in 10 minutes, followed by 1 litre in 30 minutes.
Three reasons allow isolation precautions:
- The violation of the regulation, which is decided by the Disciplinary Board.
- The contagious disease, which is decided on the order of a prison doctor.
- The political motive, which is decided by the Minister of Justice, covered by the prescription of a prison doctor.
The prison regime of political detention is a regime that intends to deprive the prisoner of any activity that may render the detention barable, such as the swimming pool and sports' room in Bruges or the fitness gym in Turnhout. Some prisoners in political detention regime have undoubtedly committed acts that justify their detention. This impedes the State only when the responsibility of the state is involved, such as when a crime has been committed in response to a denial of justice. The regime imposed on them is aiming to prevent that they can tell other prisoners what the State wants to keep secret, to destroy them physically, mentally or push them to suicide. There are two main categories of prisoners confined to a political detention regime:
- Victims and witnesses of abuse within state institution or corruption
- People close to the so-called terrorist movements, as a resistance to oppression.
The regulation related to solitary confinement, matched with the blocking of the windows and the fan of hot and dry air, indeed deprives a prisoner of a fair judgment. The person detained in one of these cells may only appear before the magistrates in charge to judge of his culpability or of his freedom on parole, in a state of maximum irritability, with dizziness, headache; the concentration decreased of at least 13% and a minimum loss of 7% of memory. This explains why dehydration is a common policy of elimination.
The three last Ministers of Justice expected to announce the death of Marcel Vervloesem by a suicide. When he decided to renounce all forms of suicide, the State was going to have to face its responsibilities in his death. He was then prescribed a week of dehydration matched with maximum stress, to raise his blood sugar and ensures natural production of endorphins. It took three days to prepare the isolation cell No. 3. The table and the chair have been taken away, in view to compel him to write his letters on the floor.
Marcel Vervloesem had to undress in front of eight guards to be integrated naked in the isolation cell n°3, resulting in a stressing humiliation, which in itself could have cause a diabetic coma. When the warders on duty saw him covered with a blanket, they got furious and brought him a table, chair, clothes and fruits which he had previously purchased from the canteen. Their humanity has made Marcel Vervloesem such a good mood that he has been prescribed eight days instead of seven in this regime, where so-called "medical reasons", denied him the right to a cup and even go to church.
All the symptoms of dehydration have increased during the weeks that followed this isolation: headaches, dizziness, constant thirst and the persistent skin fold. When the nurses began to complain of being unable to collect his blood so it was thick, his sugar rate had exceeded the threshold of diabetic coma. He began to vomit. He was then notified of a loss of 8 kilos or around 10% of his weight, which was quickly followed by high fever, and he became almost blind. It acted of exactly the same symptoms he suffered during his hunger and thirst strike.
Dr De Valk asked his hospitalisation. The hydration was requiring a contribution of 8 litres of water by a putting him on a quick drip of 1.5 litres in 40 minutes, then 6.5 litres by slow drip of 12 hours. Jo Vandeurzen, the previous Minister of Justice, had through his services of Brussels, refused the first hospitalisation requested by Dr. De Valk in September 2008, and had even obliged him to send back the ambulance waiting Marcel Vervloesem in the prison yard. We had then exposed the remote diagnosis of the Minister, who appeared in complete violation of the separation of capacities, in the framework of an obstacle to the Hippocratic Oath.
Stefaan De Clerck, successor to Jo Vandeurzen (who became Minister of Flemish Welfare ) had not planned to announce a death by dehydration or as a consequence of a failure to authorize the protocol of cancer treatment, which Dr. De Valk requested in 2008. As the Minister could not repeat the trick remote diagnosis, Dr. Van Hees took the responsibility to refuse the hospitalization. He limited the hydration of Marcel Vervloesem by tripling his insulin and by giving massive doses of antibiotics to make believe bronchitis that was making him cough and vomit.
Dr Van Hees told him that he should slim to lower his glycaemia, and that he could have him sent him in an isolation cell for that. "But I have already lost 8 kilos" answered Marcel Vervloesem. The doctor went, then came back to say it was a joke. This sense of humour has raised a question: since the isolation regime is not an alimentary diet, what else than dehydration can provoke a loss of weight?
Now, the Doctors are studying the control of blood sugar of the diabetic patient in a semi-dehydration regime by massive doses of insulin. The results are bad: the rate pops from six times too much, to six times not enough. Marcel Vervloesem was maintained between the hyper and hypo glycaemia, until he passed out, this December 31, 2009. It is deadly, especially for a heart patient, but he was not hospitalised.
According to Stefaan De Clerck, "the precise cause of death (of prisoners) falls under the medical confidentiality and is known only of the Doctors"*. When the medical experiments on Marcel Vervloesem will finally kill him, the exact cause of death will thus belong to the medical confidentiality between dead man and his murderers.
*Answer to writen parliamentary question n° 4-2534