Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Detainee Death in Federal Custody

The Seattle Times is reporting that prominent renowned Asian-antiquities expert, Roxanna Brown has died while in detention at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington. The circumstances regarding her death remained unclear as do most detainee deaths in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detention. According to a story in today’s Seattle Times:

A renowned Asian-antiquities expert, indicted in Los Angeles in connection with a federal investigation into illegal trafficking of pilfered Southeast Asian art, died early Wednesday morning in the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

Roxanna Brown, 62, the director of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum at Bangkok University in Thailand, was found dead about 2:30 a.m., said Federal Detention Center spokeswoman Maggie Ogden. She was arrested last week in Seattle, where she was scheduled to speak at the University of Washington.

An autopsy was performed by the King County Medical Examiner's Office on Wednesday, although the results were not immediately available. Brown's brother, Fred Brown, of Chicago, told The Associated Press that her death was due to an apparent heart attack.

Fred Brown said his sister maintained she was innocent, and he blamed the stress of her arrest for her death. "She wasn't in good health to begin with, but they definitely brought on the heart attack," he said.

A profile of Professor Brown is available at the web site for the UCLA Center for Southeastern Studies. Roxanna Brown was described by UCLA art historian Robert Brown as "one of the two or three people who created the field of Southeast Asian ceramics." Roxanna Brown's special interest is the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, high points of Asian plate and vase making arts. Already well-known for her 1977 book The Ceramics of South-East Asia, Their Dating and Identification, she described how she became interested in the cargoes of ship wrecks.

Chalk up another death in Federal detention. Her family asserts that the death was due to a lack of appropriate medical care. Let’s see if the Feds provide enough information to ferret out the truth.

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