Wednesday 24 January 2018

Out of prison - Islamic terrorist freed today but deportation remains in doubt

A stay has been put on his deportation, pending the outcome of High Court proceedings. Stock Image
A stay has been put on his deportation, pending the outcome of High Court proceedings. Stock Image
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A convicted Islamic terrorist who the Justice Minister is seeking to deport is due to be released from prison in Ireland today.

The man, who previously served time in France for plotting to commit terror offences across Europe, is set to be released having served a six-month term for possessing a false Belgian identity document while attempting to board a flight from Dublin to Athens.

But a stay has been put on his deportation, pending the outcome of High Court proceedings in which he is challenging an order expelling him from the country. Although the court has already rejected his appeal of the deportation order, it has yet to decide whether he should be given leave to bring the case to the Court of Appeal.

The 53-year-old's identity and his country of origin cannot be published for legal reasons.

In court earlier this week, Remy Farrell SC, counsel for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, urged Mr Justice Richard Humphreys to give the decision as soon as possible.

He said there was some urgency due to the man's impending release from prison.

The judge said he would need time to consider arguments made in favour of an appeal by the man's counsel, Michael Lynn SC. A decision could be issued today, when the case is due before the court for mention.

Although a stay exists on his deportation, gardaí are not precluded from arresting the man following his release from jail, if there are grounds for doing so.

In a ruling last week, the court detailed how the man was originally denied refugee status after arriving in Ireland in 1997.

But he secured asylum in 2000 after duping a refugee appeals tribunal about his background. His application was made under a false name and he falsely claimed his parents and brother were killed by extremists. He had in fact been convicted and sentenced to death in his home country for forming an armed terrorist group, murder, arson, theft and possession of "war weapons", but managed to skip the country.

After becoming a refugee in Ireland, he was given permission to travel abroad and in 2002 he was arrested in France.

He was subsequently convicted of membership of an organisation planning acts of terrorism in England, Ireland, Spain, Andorra and France.

The man was deported back to Ireland after being released from prison and had his refugee status rescinded. He has been fighting attempts to deport him back to his home country since 2012.

During hearings the court was told gardaí believed the man's activities and associates were "of serious concern" and "contrary to the State's security".

Despite his convictions in his home country and France, the man has rejected claims he is involved in terrorism. He also fears he will come to harm if returned to his home country.

Worrying

The case has raised worrying questions about the asylum screening process in operation at the time of his acceptance as a refugee. It comes at a time when the Government is facing considerable pressure from the EU to improve information-sharing systems used to combat international terrorism and organised crime.

Formal infringement procedures were launched by the European Commission last September after Ireland failed to put in place systems for sharing DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data, which should have been in place by 2011. The Department of Justice has pledged to have the systems ready by the end of the year.

Irish Independent

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