Sunday 22 April 2018

Dutch man arrested in apartment linked to Kinahan gang fails in High Court bail bid

Naoufal Fassih (Credit: RTE)
Naoufal Fassih (Credit: RTE)

Andrew Phelan

A MAN arrested in a Dublin apartment allegedly linked to the Christy Kinahan crime gang has failed in his High Court challenge to the legality of his detention after he was refused bail.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan today refused to free Naoufal Fassih (35), a Dutch national originally from Morocco, who was arrested as part of a garda investigation into organised crime.

In a ruling delivered this afternoon, the judge said Mr Fassih had failed to demonstrate any “fundamental denial of justice” and ruled that his detention was lawful.

Mr Fassih’s lawyer had argued that he had not been given a proper opportunity to make a case for bail in the district court.

Mr Fassih had brought the application to be freed following the refusal of a district court judge to grant him bail last week.

His arrest took place on April 7 at an apartment on Lower Baggot Street, where three watches worth more than €80,000 and €12,000 in cash were also seized.

Judge Noonan said counsel for Mr Fassih had characterised the refusal of bail as a refusal of the district court judge to hear his side.

“I do not believe this is an accurate portrayal of what actually occurred,” Judge Noonan said.

He said there had been four district court hearings and three adjournments had been at the request of the applicant’s lawyers.

Judge Noonan also said that Article 40 of the Constitution, under which the application was brought, was “not the appropriate procedure in this case.”

“I am satisfied in the circumstances of this case that the applicant has failed to demonstrate absence of jurisdiction, fundamental denial of justice or fundamental flaw,” the judge said.

He added that that Mr Fassih had brought another bail application at the district court this morning and had again been refused.

Mr Fassih  is charged with having two false instruments, a Belgian national identity card and the Dutch passport, both bearing different names.

He also faces associated charges under the Immigration Act and possession of a small amount of cannabis.

When he made the application yesterday,  Colman Fitzgerald SC, for Mr Fassih had argued that in the District Court, his client's lawyer was not given a proper opportunity to make a case for bail.

Whether or not a bail application had begun, and he accepted it had for purposes of this application, his argument was it had not concluded, counsel said.

Gráinne O’ Neill BL, for the DPP, had argued there was no error on the face of the detention warrant and the Article 40 procedure was not appropriate.

The District Court had jurisdiction to hear a bail application and, while it may not have been a “perfect” hearing, had heard it, counsel said.

The transcript of the District Court hearings indicated it heard gardai believed the “property” where he was arrested was linked to the Kinahan Organised Crime gang, rather than Mr Fassih was linked to that group, she said.

The District judge refused to take a garda document about such matters and stopped an officer when he read a number of sentences from it, she said.

His arrest was part of an investigation into organised crime, he was only in Ireland two days at the time, had no ties here and on his arrest was going by a name that was false, counsel also said.

The cash and watches were found in “plain sight” in the apartment.

The garda view that he posed a flight risk was reasonable, she said.

Mr Fitzgerald had said if the prosecution was contending there was no link with the Kinahan group, there should have been no attempt to introduce certain material in the District Court.

Mr Fassih claimed he was remanded in custody without his lawyers being given an opportunity to put forward a case for bail. He also alleged he had no opportunity to explain possession of the documents.

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