Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

A candle vigil took place on Saturday to honor Soleiman Faqiri

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The seventh vigil at the candle will be the last, said Yusuf Faqiri, Soleiman's brother. (Archives)


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Seven years ago, Soleiman Faqiri died in prison. The jury at the coroner's inquest concluded his death was a homicide. The Faqiri family held a candlelight vigil in his honor on Saturday in Toronto.

It was the seventh such vigil in seven years. However, Soleiman's brother, Yusuf, declared that it was the last.

Earlier this month, the jury at the coroner's inquest concluded that the 2016 death of Soleiman Faqiri at the hands of prison guards, was a homicide. On the day of his death, while he was in crisis, he was pepper-sprayed, hit on the head and held down on his stomach in his cell by six prison guards. /p>

The verdict is not criminally or civilly binding. Despite everything, the family wants to turn the page. The vigil is an opportunity, in many ways, to close this chapter and move forward. We are here, we fought, we got the truth, said Yusuf.

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Yusuf Faqiri says his family wants to turn the page. (Archives)

We can breathe a little. [I can look at Soleiman and say, 'Brother, the country now knows what happened to you.

Yusuf specifies that the family hopes that criminal proceedings will be initiated and that the jury's recommendations will be followed.

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The jury made 57 recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in custody, including measures to ensure that anyone suffering a mental health crisis in custody is taken to hospital for assessment and treatment .

At the time of his death, Mr. Faqiri, who suffered from schizoaffective disorder, was awaiting a medical evaluation at the Ontario Shores Center for Mental Health Sciences. He was in jail on charges of aggravated assault and threatening a neighbor.

We have an opportunity here, said Yusuf. We have an opportunity to turn a page and transform the correctional system. Because if we don't, and if these recommendations are not implemented, we will experience more tragedies.

Howard Sapers, a consultant on corrections reforms, says many similar recommendations have been made in the past, but the government is slow to respond.

But in reality, there is nothing more important than making sure everyone is safe and lives are preserved, he said.

If he adds that he has already seen situations similar to that of Soleiman, they have not always resulted in the death of a person.

What is really striking in these circumstances is that everyone who was in contact with Mr. Faqiri acknowledged his illness , said Mr. Sapers, still in disbelief. Despite this, the system was unable to place him in safer conditions.

With information from CBC

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