Thursday, July 23, 2015

AN Afghan national who was discovered lying at the side of the motorway near Naas last week claimed he had spent three days in a shipping container.

Walli Ullah, aged 21, of no fixed abode, first appeared at court in Athy on Tuesday and subsequently at Naas court on Thursday of last week. On both occasions he declined to make a bail application.

The defendant is before the courts on an allegation that on 13 July 2015 he failed, as a foreign national, to produce a document to establish his identity, which is an offence as per the 2004 Immigration Act.

At last Tuesday’s sitting in Athy gardaí said they were unable to confirm the man’s name and address as he had no documents and there was a difficulty communicating with him. They sought to have an interpreter assigned to the case.

The Athy court was told that when questioned the man had repeatedly stated that he had come to Ireland for his own protection as he was not safe in his home country.

Gardaí r said they had been informed by Mr Ullah that he had left Afghanistan three months ago and that he had travelled through a number of countries before leaving France in a container.

He claimed he had been in the container for three days before he was discovered lying on the side of the motorway last Monday. No application for bail was made at last Tuesday’s court sitting in Athy.

An interpreter was in court for the sitting in Naas last Thursday and solicitor Tim Kennelly informed the court that there would again be no application for bail. He said that Mr Ullah still had no papers that could prove his identity and he said his client intended to apply for asylum.

Judge Desmond Zaidan agreed to remand the defendant in custody on consent and Mr Ullah will appear before the court again in Naas this Thursday (23 July).

The judge also informed the defendant that he had a right to notify the Afghan embassy of his circumstances and could seek consular assistance if he wished to do so. The Afghan interpreter informed the court that there was no Afghan embassy in Ireland. In response Judge Zaidan said that he was certain there would be someone in Ireland who was working from an embassy in London or elsewhere tasked with looking after Afghan nationals in Ireland. He said that through the prison service the defendant could look to be placed in contact with this individual if he so wished.

In conclusion Mr Kennelly told the court that he had been asked to bring another issue to the attention of the court. He said that food served to Mr Ullah while on remand at Clover Hill Prison does not meet with the requirements of his religion.

Judge Zaidan said that this issue didn’t fall under his remit and was a matter for the prison service. He urged Mr Kennelly to make contact with prison authorities on behalf of his client.

The case was adjourned to Naas district court on Thursday.

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