Inquest into death of refugee in Toronto detention centre

Posted by admin on Mar 21st, 2011

Roma refugee complained of chest pain, Toronto inquest told
Mon Mar 21 2011. Nicholas Keung Toronto Star Immigration Reporter

A Roma refugee who died of heart failure in immigration detention was thought to be faking chest pains to avoid his imminent deportation, a Toronto inquest has heard. A visibly frail Jan Szamko was spotted in the immigration holding centre on Rexdale Blvd., soiled in his own feces and urine, on Dec. 6, 2009, just hours before his scheduled removal flight. The 31-year-old man was taken in a wheelchair to a segregated holding area and then transferred to the Toronto West Detention Centre, where he died two days later. An autopsy found he died of heart failure.

“I was explaining to him to stop the behaviour and ‘go with some dignity and clean up yourself,’ ” Canada Border Service Agency officer Steven Bean testified at Szamko’s inquest Monday.

“If you don’t stop, you are going to be transferred to a jail. You are still going to be removed,” the border officer recalled telling Szamko.

Bean said Szamko had just been assessed at the William Osler Health Centre, where emergency physician Nayyar Razvi signed a paper declaring the man “good to fly.”

Because of that assurance, along with an assessment by medical staff at the holding centre, Bean said he deemed Szamko “uncooperative” and believed he was faking his medical condition.

At issue for the two-man, three-woman inquest jury is how inmates’ medical needs are communicated and met at detention facilities.

Szamko, who had a chronic adrenal gland disorder that required medication, came to Canada in 2008, but withdrew his refugee claim so he could return to the Czech Republic to see his dying mother.

He changed his mind after learning of her death. He was arrested on a warrant and sent to the immigration holding centre in November 2009.

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