An inquest into the death of a Moroccan Jew who died in mysterious circumstances at a detention centre near Heathrow began on Tuesday.
Amir Siman-Tov, who converted to Judaism before travelling to the UK, died at Colnbrook detention centre on 17 February 2016.
The UK Government has so far refused to explain how Siman-Tov – whose wife was pregnant at the time – died despite being on 24-hour suicide watch.
A fellow detainee said Siman-Tov had been “denied everything all night” by medical and supervisory staff at Colnbrook, an outsourced high-security centre similar to a modern prison where inmates can be held without limit.
Adel Kader, 50, from Lebanon, met Siman-Tov at the centre and said: “He was put into healthcare as soon as he arrived… He had a nurse with him all the time. He was on suicide watch.” Kader said the Jewish migrant was “a quiet and intelligent person” and “a very gentle man”, adding: “When he came in last month he was fit.”
Jewish human rights group René Cassin has been campaigning against indefinite detention, saying Siman-Tov’s death showed how it was a “lethal policy”.
Director Mia Hasenson-Gross said: “The fact that this man is Jewish connects to our community, but this policy affects over 30,000 migrants every year.”
Michael Goldin, a specialist in immigration law based in north London, helped Siman-Tov both with his visa queries and with his “mental health issues.”
Goldin said: “We became quite close and would often speak about Judaism and his plans for the future. It was a huge shock to hear the awful news. He was genuinely one of the kindest and gentlest souls I knew.”