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Sunday 4 December 2016

Asylum-seeker hurt in riot is moved to 'secure' part of jail

Anti-racism protesters at the Department of Justice campaigning on behalf of Walli Ullah Safi
Anti-racism protesters at the Department of Justice campaigning on behalf of Walli Ullah Safi

An Afghan man who was attacked during the Cloverhill prison riot has now been separated from his fellow prisoners.

Walli Ullah Safi was moved to a "secure" area of the prison where he is now receiving medical and psychological treatment, according to his solicitor.

The 21-year-old - who cannot speak English - was found by gardai walking along the side of the M7 two weeks ago.

He could not produce identification documentation to the officers as is required by law. He was arrested and appeared before Naas District Court, and was remanded in custody in Cloverhill Prison pending a hearing on his case.

Mr Safi was set upon by fellow prisoners during a riot that occurred there on Wednesday.

He was subjected to a severe beating, during which his arm was broken and his face slashed with a blade.

Hospital

Ten other prisoners were taken to hospital after the riot ended.

According to sources, Mr Safi was the first prisoner to return to the prison from hospital, where he was immediately moved to a secure location away from other inmates.

It is understood that an application has now been made on behalf of Mr Safi to seek asylum here in Ireland.

His solicitor, Conal Boyce, said that Mr Safi was "quite traumatised" but doing better since he had been moved to the new cell.

"He was held against his will for a period during the time which that protest took place," he told Newstalk Lunchtime.

"In every other regard he's okay."

Mr Boyce said that Mr Safi was now in a "secure" place and that he had access to medical and psychological care.

He said that the garda who arrested Mr Safi had "no choice" as the law says that a non-national failing to produce identification "is a criminal offence."

He said that his "heart goes out" to Mr Safi and that nothing more could be done about his situation until after a court hearing next Thursday.

Sensible

He confirmed that Mr Safi is to seek asylum in the country.

"The reason I am engaging with him now is because the next sensible thing to be done is that he is inserted into a refugee programme, [and that] is being done now," he said.

Meanwhile, there was a protest yesterday at the Department of Justice where the Anti-Racism Network of Ireland (ARNI) called for the immediate release of Mr Safi.

Anne Mulhall, of ARNI, said that Mr Safi "doesn't belong in prison".

"He has been in there for over two weeks now, why is something only being done now, it is just unacceptable," she said.

The Department of Justice said that it could not comment on the matter because Mr Safi's case was before the courts.

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