Afghan youth ‘traumatised’ by jail attack

The solicitor for a detained Afghan youth who was slashed across the face during Wednesday’s riot in Cloverhill Prison said his client is "deeply traumatised" by the experience.

Conal Boyce said Wali Ullah Safi had travelled some 6,000km to get here in the hope of finding “a safe haven”, but found himself “further brutalised” within Ireland’s prison system.

Mr Boyce said he was due to meet his client in Cloverhill Prison today and speak to him with the aid of an interpreter.

He said Mr Safi would “remain in custody for the time being”, but that he expected his client would be put in touch with the State’s refugee commissioner. He said the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner had already indicated “their willingness to assist”.

Mr Safi, aged 21, is due back in court in the coming days. He was found walking along a motorway, near Naas, and was arrested by gardaí for not having recognised proof of identification. He was brought to court and remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison.

During a riot orchestrated by 15 inmates on a prison yard on Wednesday he was taken hostage. The ringleaders smashed up an observation post and soccer goals, parts of which they brandished as improvised weapons. They slashed Mr Safi’s face with a sharp object, believed to be either broken glass from the observation hut or an improvised blade. There were also reports they had broken his arm, but this turned out not to be the case. Prison staff, who had already assembled into control and restraint teams (riot squads), intervened at this stage.

Some 45 other prisoners in the yard left peacefully, but officers had to forcibly bring the armed ringleaders into custody. Ten of them were brought to hospital. Mr Boyce said Mr Safi was “triaged” at the prison before being taken to hospital. He was brought back to Cloverhill Prison later that night.

“He has since been returned to Cloverhill where he has full access to the medical facility and is, as I understand it, in a high-support unit with access to the psychology team.” Mr Boyce said his client had been “left deeply traumatised”.

“He had travelled a distance of 6,000 odd kilometres to get to this country in the hope of finding a safe haven and unfortunately for him he found himself further brutalised within our system,” said Mr Boyce, who acknowledged the support and assistance from the UN High Commission for Refugees, the Irish Refugee Council, and Sport Against Racism.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust and Nasc have called for an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons. Anti-Racism Network Ireland called for Mr Safi’s immediate release from detention.

Disciplinary proceedings against two prisoners who climbed onto the roof, and remained there for 14 hours, began yesterday. They came down at 1.30am, some time after an appeal by the grandmother of one of them.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust and Nasc have called for an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons. Anti-Racism Network Ireland called for Mr Safi’s immediate release from detention.Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that between three and five people who were brought to court to face charges had to be released as a result of a wildcat action by prison escort officers in Dublin. The suspects were freed as there were no prison officers to bring them from the custody area of the Criminal Courts of Justice to the district court within the legal time period.


Lifestyle

Wesley O’ Regan is the General Manager of Popscene in Voodoo Rooms, Cork city. Popscene opened last November and is Cork’s only themed bar that is dedicated to celebrating the best of the 80s and 90s. https://www.facebook.com/PopsceneCork/You've Been Served: Wesley O'Regan, Popscene

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