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Garda slashed by detainee on deportation flight

Representatives of rank-and-file gardaí have accused managers of “reckless endangerment”, saying there were not enough officers on the aircraft.

When the flight landed in Lagos, the injured garda had to be taken back to Madrid for treatment. His assailant was left in Lagos.
When the flight landed in Lagos, the injured garda had to be taken back to Madrid for treatment. His assailant was left in Lagos.
Image: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba/file photo

A GARDA HAD to be treated in hospital after being attacked and slashed with a sharp object aboard a repatriation flight to Nigeria, TheJournal.ie has learned.

The garda, a father of three, was escorting the prisoner to the bathroom on board the aircraft when the assault happened.

He required 13 stitches after being slashed along the cheek and throat, as well as on his back.

Concerns have been raised about the level of security on board the flight at the time, with the Garda Representative Association accusing management of “reckless endangerment” of an officer.

TheJournal.ie also understands that when the flight landed at Lagos, the assailant disembarked and was not detained further.

The attack took place on Thursday 8 March, on board a flight which had originated in Austria before picking up detainees for repatriation in Dublin and Madrid. Repatriation flights are sometimes shared between EU countries due to the cost.

Roughly an hour after the aircraft departed Madrid for Lagos in Nigeria, the officer was escorting the prisoner to the bathroom when he was attacked and slashed across the face. The officer tried to get away as others attempted to restrain the detainee, but he was slashed again on his back.

It’s believed the prisoner had managed to smuggle a sharp object onto the plane.

The prisoner was then restrained on board and the injured guard treated by a doctor as the flight continued to Lagos, where the detainees were released.

A spokesperson for the Garda Representative Association told TheJournal.ie that not enough gardaí had been deployed on board the flight. He said:

We feel that the security wasn’t sufficient. There weren’t enough guards on there.

This was reckless endangerment.

The spokesperson continued: “Immigration is an important issue, and the correct amount of staff must be allocated to fulfil the role so that nobody’s safety is compromised.”

It is considered too dangerous for EU personnel to disembark in Lagos without security so the garda could not receive further treatment there. Instead the flight returned to Madrid where he was treated approximately 10 hours after the incident.

The officer is still recuperating and has not yet returned to active duty.

In a statement, a spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said:

We can confirm that a member of An Garda Síochána was injured while on a deportation flight from Madrid, Spain to Lagos in Nigeria on the 8th March 2012. The Garda was treated for his injuries in a hospital in Madrid. This matter is currently under investigation by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

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Michael Freeman

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