A toxicology report has been requested to find out if a man was under the influence of drugs when he died in a police cell last week.

There have been calls for an independent inquiry into whether Richmond Tong’s death in custody could have been prevented.

The 35-year-old from Mtarfa died after he was found suffering from a seizure in his cell at police headquarters at 3.40am on Wednesday. He had been arrested some hours previously on suspicion of possessing drugs, namely cocaine.

Police said he died despite being given immediate first aid on site and from a medical team.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli is heading a magisterial inquiry into what happened.

Where all laws and protocols observed?

It is understood that a blood toxicology report is being commissioned overseas to establish if Tong was under the influence of drugs when he died.

He had been arrested at around 12.30am by the Rapid Intervention Unit after he was spotted acting suspiciously.

The Nationalist Party has called for an independent inquiry into the arrested man’s death including its causes, whether it could have been prevented, and who was responsible for precautions to safeguard the man’s health.

The party also asked if all laws and protocols had been observed.

A police spokesman said that the usual protocol for detainees is for a “visual check” to be carried out for “any injuries and state of mind amongst others.” He said if anything untoward is noticed the person is immediately referred to either Floriana Health Centre or Mater Dei Hospital.

The detainee is also usually asked whether he or she is on any medicine and whether he or she wishes to see a doctor.

A thorough search is done and any items that may cause injury are removed.

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