Wednesday 21 February 2018

Way cleared to deport Islamic terror plotter from Ireland

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Shane Phelan Legal Affairs Editor

The High Court has refused to give a convicted Islamic terrorist leave to appeal against a judgment – a decision that has paved the way for his deportation.

Efforts by the man to secure leave to appeal first to the Court of the Appeal, and, when that failed, to the Supreme Court, were rejected today.

The man, described as a threat to national security, can now be deported to his home country.

He finished serving a six-month sentence today for possessing a false Belgian passport while attempting to board a flight from Dublin to Athens.

But gardaí arrested him on foot of a deportation order immediately after he walked out of the prison and he was taken into custody.

It is thought his deportation is imminent.

The man’s name and country of origin cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.

He has convictions for serious terror offences in his home country and France.

The man was given refugee status in Ireland after duping a tribunal about his background, but this was revoked after his activities became known to authorities.

Last week Mr Justice Richard Humphreys rejected a challenge by the man against a decision by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to order his deportation.

His lawyers then applied for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

But today Mr Justice Humphreys refused to grant the application.

In a ruling he said no point of law of exceptional public interest arose and that it was not in the public interest for the man to be permitted to bring his case to the Court of Appeal.

The judge ordered that a stay on the man’s deportation be discharged forthwith. He also said reporting restrictions on the man’s country of origin would continue for at least two months after he is removed from the State.

Sinead McGrath BL, counsel for the Justice Minister, said her side had always been frank that they intended to proceed with deportation.

The man’s barrister, David Leonard, made further arguments to the court, this time seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

He argued the man would be irrevocably prejudiced if he was deported to his home country and that a refugee appeals tribunal had found he would be at risk of torture.

But these arguments were rejected by Mr Justice Humphreys.

The judge said he was of the view there was an enormously strong argument for the deportation order being implemented.

He said the man’s brother had been deported to their home country and had not come to any harm.

Mr Justice Humphreys said the man’s credibility was minimal as he had lied to gain refugee status in Ireland, something which was later revoked.

He noted the man had attempted to flee the jurisdiction using a false passport last year.

The judge said the man had committed a fraud on the immigration system and had used his presence in Ireland to commit terrorism offences here and in other states.

In a separate ruling last week, Mr Justice Humphreys 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 it appears he did not serve any of those sentences and managed to travel to Ireland.

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.

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 as far back as 2011.

The Department of Justice has pledged to have the systems ready by the end of the year.

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