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Police investigate about 100 suicides linked to Canadian man

Published : Tuesday, 3 October, 2023 at 5:35 PM  Count : 450

Police investigate about 100 suicides linked to Canadian man

Police investigate about 100 suicides linked to Canadian man

The authorities in Canada and Britain are investigating at least 100 poisoning deaths as suicides tied to the online businesses of a Canadian man accused of selling a toxic salt, reports The New York Times.

Kenneth Law, 57, of Mississauga, a city west of Toronto, is accused of operating a group of businesses that shipped about 1,200 packages of a toxic salt to people in 40 countries, fulfilling orders placed on his website.
The Canadian authorities have charged him with helping 14 people die by suicide, a number that may grow as investigations into Mr. Law's businesses continue in Canada and Britain.

In Canada, where investigators said Mr. Law shipped 160 packages, he has been charged by multiple police agencies in Ontario with counseling or aiding suicide. The victims were between 16 and 36 years old.

Britain is investigating the deaths of 88 of the 272 people in the country who purchased sodium nitrite — a salt that is used as a food preservative — from Mr. Law's website, a spokesman for Britain's National Crime Agency said in an email.

Mr. Law, who has yet to be arraigned, appeared in court on Wednesday, where his next hearing was set for Oct. 31. He is being held at a jail in Ontario.

He will plead not guilty, said his lawyer, Matthew Gourlay, who called the case, in an email, a "novel application of the law."

"We are not aware of any similar prosecution in Canada," Mr. Gourlay said. "Our position is that none of the conduct alleged against Mr. Law — which, to be clear, is not admitted — validly comes within the scope of the criminal prohibition."

The charges against Mr. Law come as Canada is debating a recent loosening of its federal assisted suicide law, which has made the country's policy one of the most liberal in the world. Since 2021, Canada has permitted assisted death for people with chronic painful conditions, even if those conditions are not terminal.

Even so, the law requires people who are terminally ill when they apply for assisted death to be assessed by a doctor or nurse practitioner and follow other rules before being permitted to die. Those practitioners are exempted from criminal charges of counseling or aiding suicide, which have a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

"Let us be clear that we will not tolerate criminal actions by those who prey on vulnerable individuals in our communities and we will hold those responsible accountable," Inspector Simon James of the York Regional Police, which was involved in the Canadian investigation, said at a news conference last month.

The police in Thunder Bay, a city in northwestern Ontario, believe Ashtyn Prosser is among those who bought products from Mr. Law. He died in March, one month before he would have turned 20, his mother, Kim Prosser, said.

"The one thing that could ever change who I am, at my core, would be losing a child," said Ms. Prosser, who added that her son had struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic.


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