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Muslim 'goaded' by gardai, court told

GARDAI tried to goad a Muslim taxi driver into confessing to a sexual assault by enraging him with an "extraordinary" interrogation about his faith, his defence has claimed.

Officers who quizzed Mourad Benkouider (38) used a religious line of questioning designed to "send him over the edge", it was alleged.

Details of the garda Q&A session were read out to court on the third day of the trial of Benkouider, who is accused of groping a 24-year old passenger in his taxi more than two years ago. He allegedly put his hand down her top and touched her "inappropriately" as he took her home in a north Dublin suburb after a night out.

Benkouider, of Hollywell, Upper Kilmacud Road, Dundrum, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court.


Garda Anthony Moloney told the court he was present for the interview and asked questions along with now-retired sergeant John Stafford.

Defence solicitor Chris Horrigan said he accepted that the question of Benkouider's religion arose because he asked if he could pray during questioning. However, he questioned the reason for questions such as: "What do you think of Western women compared to Muslim women?"

The accused was also asked: "Eating pork. Is that against the Muslim religion? Touching a woman who is not your wife. Would that be against the Muslim religion?" The accused had not answered these questions. Garda Moloney said they were asked because he did not know much about the religion and to find out what the accused thought.

The defendant had then been asked: "Do you believe Western women are in some way inferior to Muslim women and that some Muslim men believe they are there to be used?"

Mr Horrigan said a "posse" of gardai had arrested the defendant and he had already been tired after a day of interviewing, in which his period of detention had been extended.

"This was put to him at the end of a long day in an effort to rise him, in an effort to hit him where it hurt him most, you were trying to goad him," Mr Horrigan said. "The questions were designed to prod him with a religious stick in an effort to inflame him, to enrage him and send him over the edge in a third interview where you needed a confession." The garda denied this.

State solicitor Fiona Downes said the prosecution was relying mainly on the evidence of the alleged victim. Judge Catherine Murphy will rule next week.