Afghan man ‘will damage asylum centre again’

A 33-year-old Afghan who fought the Taliban and is now on hunger strike yesterday appeared in court charged with causing criminal damage at a direct provision centre in Co Limerick.

Afghan man ‘will damage asylum centre again’

Melad Melaadi appeared at Ennis District Court in connection with the criminal damage of glass panels at Mount Trenchard direct provision centre, Foynes, on Sunday.

The alleged criminal damage coincided with Mr Melaadi reaching the 10-year mark in the direct provision system.

Giving evidence of arrest, charge, and caution, Garda Elaine Freemantle told the court Mr Malaadi replied: “What I have done I’m really, really, happy with and I will do it again to feel better.”

The accused also allegedly told the garda: “I’m proud of what I have done and I will do it again to the death.”

Solicitor Daragh Hassett said: “Mr Melaadi is very frustrated with the direct provision system and is now here 10 years. He feels that there is no progress in relation to his status in this country. I’m not saying that is a defence in law but I am offering context to his replies.”

An application for legal aid was granted after Mr Hassett said his client was in receipt of €19 per week.

Inspector Tom Kennedy objected to bail as Mr Melaadi had no address to reside at “and he has made serious utterances to Garda Freemantle about what he intends to do”.

Mr Hassett said he accepted that Mr Melaadi was no longer welcome at Mount Trenchard direct provision centre.

However, Mr Melaadi secured bail after Insp Kennedy withdrew Garda objections when Mr Melaadi obtained an alternative address in Limerick City.

Speaking outside court, Mr Melaadi said: “Over the past three days, I am on hunger strike with no food and water. Only smoking. I’m OK. I intend to continue with the hunger strike. I have a little daughter here. She is eight years old. She is in foster care and I haven’t seen her in three years.”

Mr Melaadi said that he came to Ireland in 2004 “to get some life because Afghanistan was at war”.

A native of the Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan, Mr Melaadi said he was a militant who fought the Taliban. “My mental health is OK but the pressure is too much,” he said. “It is so much pressure. I have spent the best years of my life, 24 to 34, in direct provision.”

He said direct provision “is very, very bad. You feel every day just the same”.

He said: “I am fighting for my daughter and for myself. She is not going to say in the future that ‘my father is a donkey or maybe a junkie, but a good person who must have loved me’. I am continuing this hunger strike. I will refuse everything and I will probably end up in hospital.”

Asked what would end his hunger strike, he said: “To get residency and to be able to see my daughter again.

“Ten years of my life is wasted here. I wish I died back in Afghanistan when I was fighting the Taliban because this is worse for me.

“This is like ‘you ran from death and you are now in a coma’. I can do nothing, not for myself, for my family. Nothing.”

He was remanded on bail to appear before Newcastle West District Court on September 2.

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