‘Our family hasn’t given up’: Rally to mark six-year anniversary of Soleiman Faqiri’s death at Ontario jail

Friends, family, and supporters of the 30-year-old man who died in custody in an Ontario jail six years ago are holding a rally in downtown Toronto Saturday night to mark the anniversary of his death.

On Dec. 15, 2016, Soleiman Faqiri was beaten, pepper-sprayed, and restrained by guards at the Central East Correctional Facility, according to a 2021 report from Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist.

Faqiri lived with schizophrenia and was remanded to the Lindsay, Ont. jail on Dec. 5 while he waited to be transferred to a mental health facility.

“Six years on, our family hasn’t given up on justice for our beloved Soli,” Yusuf Faqiri, Soleiman’s brother, said in a news release ahead of tonight’s rally.

Pollanen concluded Faqiri’s enlarged heart, his “violent struggle” with jail guards in the segregation cell, and his multiple injuries were significant factors contributing to his death.

In August 2022, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) declined – for the third time – to lay criminal charges against the guards involved in Faqiri’s death, despite Pollanen’s report.

The OPP said there was “insufficient evidence to form the requisite grounds to believe a criminal offence has been committed,” according to an email obtained by CTV News.

“If that’s insufficient evidence, I don’t know what else there is left to [do to] hold criminal accountability to the death [of] Soleiman Faqiri. OPP seems to think that there should be a different standard, and that’s a problem,” Yusuf told CTV News, following the OPP’s decision. A coroner’s inquest is planned, but no date has been set yet.

The rally for Faqiri will be held at Yonge-Dundas Square, starting at 6 p.m.

“We have fought for truth, and we will continue to fight for criminal accountability, with supporters from across Canada who believe that people suffering from mental illness deserve to be taken care of, not found dead as a result of being beaten to death,” Yusuf said.

With files from CTV News’ Heather Wright, Tom Yun, Phil Tsekouras, and The Canadian Press 

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