herald

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Teenage boy is main suspect in park knife killing of Azzam

Azzam Raguragui is believed to have died from a single knife wound to the chest
Azzam Raguragui is believed to have died from a single knife wound to the chest

A teenager has been identified as the chief suspect in the murder of another boy in South Dublin.

The youth was yesterday helping gardai with their investigation into the death of Azzam Raguragui (18).

Azzam, whose family came to Ireland from Morocco, was stabbed to death on Friday night in Dundrum, allegedly following a row in a local park.

He was described as a respectful and cheerful person and was due to attend evening prayers in Clonskeagh Mosque later that night.

Detectives who launched a murder investigation have ruled out a racial motive.

The Herald learned yesterday that gardai have spoken to the chief suspect.

The teenager, who is from South Dublin, has claimed he acted in self-defence when he fatally stabbed Azzam.

A source said the boy had presented himself to gardai on Saturday with a legal adviser and a prepared statement.

Sensitive

"No arrests have yet been made and a juvenile is continuing to assist gardai with their investigation," a senior source told the Herald.

"This is a very sensitive investigation given the young ages of people involved.

Police search murder scene
Police search murder scene

"Gardai will take their time progressing the inquiry to establish exactly what happened."

Gardai have spoken to a number of people in relation to the murder, but are continuing to identify every person who was present at the scene on Friday night.

Azzam suffered a stab wound at about 8pm.

Emergency services were alerted and he was rushed to St James's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

It is understood gardai are continuing to search for the murder weapon and have been carrying out searches in Finsbury Park over the weekend.

Officers have been called out to public order incidents in the area in recent weeks and responded to reports of a brawl involving a number of youths last Saturday week.

In a tribute to the victim, a group called the Moroccan Community in Ireland claimed there had been an "unprovoked attack" on Azzam.

" It is with a heavy heart we have to inform you that our young Moroccan-Irish (aged 18) was stabbed in Dundrum in an unprovoked attack and unfortunately he has died.

"This young man, Azzam Raguragui, was known to be so friendly, helpful and easy-going.

"We would like to express our most sincere condolences to his family and the whole Irish and Moroccan community for this terrible tragedy," the group said in a Facebook post.

The Irish Sufi Foundation, an organisation of Muslims here, said Azzam was a "kind" and "courteous" young man who was attacked by "a gang of thugs" on Friday night.

Heartbreaking

"Just received the devastating and heartbreaking news that our young brother Azzam was set on by a gang of thugs and stabbed to death in a Dundrum park last night," the foundation said.

"Azzam was a kind, courteous, respectful and cheerful young man who always had a smile on his face.

"He was bright, talented and ambitious with aspirations to become a successful entrepreneur.

"Such a tragic loss. A wonderful young life full of potential cut short. "My deepest condolences to Azzam's parents and family."

Residents of the Finsbury Park area said yesterday they had made a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour to gardai in recent weeks.

The complaints concerned groups of rowdy teenage boys congregating at night on a green space not overlooked by homes.

Azzam and his family were members of the local Muslim community. His father, Abderrahmane, who is originally from Morocco, moved to Ireland in 2001.

Mr Raguragui, his wife and their two other children were being comforted at their home in Dundrum last night.

Mr Raguragui is a nursing home care worker who in a media interview some years ago described Ireland as a friendly and warm place with greater tolerance than other countries.

Azzam, known as Azzy to his friends, was previously a student at De La Salle College in Churchtown and wanted to become an entrepreneur.

Supt Martin Mc- Gonnell, of Dundrum Garda Station, said a family liaison officer had been appointed and gardai were continuing to engage with the local community.

Appealing

He also expressed his thanks to all the members of the public who had provided information in relation to the investigation.

Supt McGonnell said he was appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have other information to contact Dundrum Garda Station.

In a statement, gardai said the suspect presented himself to a South Dublin station on Saturday afternoon.

"Investigating gardai are now following a definite line of inquiry," the statement said.

"They are currently not considering any racial motive in relation to this ongoing investigation.

"The post-mortem examination is being carried out by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan. Gardai continue to examine the scene of the incident."

It is understood Azzam suffered a single knife wound to the chest.

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