Tuesday 20 February 2018

State claims contradictions in Isil suspect's account of torture

Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins
Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A number of "inconsistencies and contradictions" were found in the story of a suspected Isil activist who the State is trying to deport, the High Court has heard.

The man is seeking to block his deportation to Jordan, claiming he has been the victim of horrific torture there in the past at the hands of security services in the 1990s.

However, lawyers for the State say the man never told Irish authorities about the alleged torture when he first came to Ireland in 2000.

Conor Power SC said there was no mention of it in an asylum application he made at the time.

The torture claims were only made after Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald informed the man last year that the State proposed to deport him in the interests of national security.

It was alleged by the man that he was tortured with electric shocks, had his fingernails squeezed, and was subject to falanga, the whipping or beating of the soles of the feet.

The man, who is of Palestinian origin but cannot be identified, fears he will be subjected to this treatment again if deported to Jordan.

Mr Power told Mr Justice Richard Humphreys that details of the alleged mistreatment first emerged last year in a report compiled by the Spirasi Centre, a support organisation for survivors of torture.

The barrister said the man's account of how he came to Ireland differed greatly between his asylum application and the Spirasi report.

In his asylum application, he claimed he travelled to Ireland directly from Jordan in 2000.

However, in the Spirasi report, he said he left Jordan in 1995 and travelled to Spain, Holland, Germany and the UK "looking for a suitable place to live" before he arrived in Ireland.

Mr Power also said allegations by the man that he was tortured by Jordanian authorities in 1996 had been contradicted by the man himself when he claimed to have left the country the previous year.

Lawyers for the man are seeking to have the deportation order set aside, and are also seeking a declaration that the Justice Minister did not give sufficient weight to medical opinion that it was probable he had been tortured in the past.

He has denied claims by gardaí that he is the "foremost organiser and facilitator of travel by extremists prepared to undertake violent action" on behalf of Isil and the "main recruiter" for the group in Ireland.

The man also denies consulting with senior violent extremist leaders outside Ireland.

The court heard the man withdrew his application for asylum in 2001 after securing residency here following the birth of a child.

However, he submitted another application for asylum after the minister decided to deport him.

In his initial asylum application, he claimed he left Jordan because he could not support his family anymore as he was in and out of prison due to his political views.

No mention of torture was made in the application, Mr Power said.

The barrister rejected claims the minister did not fully take into account the medical evidence put forward. Mr Power insisted no error in law had been made.

"The minister was entitled to consider all of the evidence when considering the Spirasi report," he said.

Mr Power said evidence of scars, problems with the man's feet and psychological issues "were considered and not misconstrued" by the minister.

The court heard the minister found that the allegations of torture were "vague" and that beyond the Spirasi report, no further effort was made to provide evidence of torture.

The court has previously heard the man claimed to be opposed to the regime in Jordan. A son of his spent three months in detention there last year and remains under scrutiny.

A close associate of the man was killed fighting President Assad's forces in Syria in 2013, the court was also told.

Irish Independent

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