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Rapist is granted residency status after visa expires

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Bereket Mekonnen

Bereket Mekonnen

Bereket Mekonnen

A rapist has been granted residency status in Ireland because his special visa has run out and authorities here are not allowed to deport him.

Bereket Mekonnen (26) received a seven-year jail term after being found guilty in 2007 of raping a 42-year-old woman in the St Stephen's Green area in August 2005.

However, following his release the Eritrean national cannot be deported home under EU and UN conventions as he is from a war-torn country.

He was living in the Dublin 8 area after his visa was extended to an unspecified date, but he is now understood to be based in the Rathmines area of the capital.

Sources have revealed that his status was recently changed after he was first given a Stamp 4 visa following his release from jail. This visa allowed him to stay in Ireland until a specified date.

It also allows a holder to work and study in Ireland for the duration of their stay.

However, Mekonnen has now been granted residency status, which means he can get full social welfare and go on a housing list if he wishes. Residency status does not include the full benefits of being an Irish citizen.

Decisions on whether a person can be deported or not are taken by the Department of Justice in consultation with the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

A department spokesman would not comment when asked about the change in Mekonnen's status yesterday by the Herald.

disturbed

Mekonnen was first granted refugee status in August 2005, but in the same month he committed the rape and was later jailed for seven years.

Following his conviction, Ms Justice Maureen Clark, who described Mekonnen as a very damaged and disturbed man who was at high risk of re- offending, also imposed a term of five years of post-release supervision. The prison sentence was backdated to 2006 when Mekonnen was first taken into custody and he was released from prison in 2011.

Mekonnen met his victim outside a nightclub at about 2.30am.

She had said she was quite drunk at the time and struck up a conversation with him after asking him for a drink from a bottle of wine.

Mekonnen started getting physical and, after his advances were rejected, he proceeded to rape her.

He was traced to a hostel where he was staying and was later identified by the victim, in the presence of gardai, at Busaras.

Mekonnen was involved in a number of violent outbursts during his court appearances before he was sentenced, including removing his clothes.

kfoy@herald.ie


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