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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Riot
Asylum seeker horribly beaten in Cloverhill is the Afghan man found at side of motorway
21-year-old Walli Ullah Safi had no idea what country he was in when he first arrived in Ireland two weeks ago.

Updated 16.40

A MAN WHO was taken hostage and horribly beaten in Cloverhill Prison yesterday has been confirmed as being Walli Ullah Safi, the Afghan asylum seeker who was found at the side of a motorway two weeks ago with no knowledge of what country he was in.

Speaking to, his solicitor Conal Boyce said that following treatment the man is “beginning to realise that we are not all the savages that he thought we were yesterday evening”.

“He was held hostage for a period and brutalised,” Boyce said, adding that Safi sustained a broken arm, face wounds and soft tissue injuries during the attack.

He was triaged on site and brought to hospital, but he’s back in Cloverhill now in their medical wing, with access to psychological support.
He’s doing ok now. I think the first thing he should do when he is eventually released is buy a lottery ticket because his luck simply has to change.

Safi’s story was widely reported on earlier this week. The young man was found at the side of the M7 motorway in Kildare and had no knowledge of what country he was in.

It is believed he left Afghanistan three months ago and arrived in Ireland as a stowaway on a lorry. He was arrested as he had no identification but in court a judge applied the probation act which would allow him to be released despite his crime being proven.

Upon leaving court, however, Ullah was immediately re-arrested for the same offence. Last week his solicitor told RTÉ the young man was in good health and the regime in Cloverhill was “very humane”.

Arm broken, face slashed

Earlier, an anti-racism group called for Safi to be released immediately.

The incidents at Cloverhill yesterday saw around 60 prisoners refusing to go back into their cells with two climbing onto the roof of the complex. During the course of the riot Safi was taken hostage and subjected to a violent beating.

He sustained a broken arm and his face was slashed with a crude handmade knife.

“It is difficult for those of us who have never had to embark on a journey to imagine the ordeals that Walli Ullah has faced in his attempt to seek refuge in Europe,”  Anti-Racism Network Ireland said today in a statement.

Safi is due to appear back in court at the start of August and until then the groups said he will remain in Cloverhill, a place “where he is not safe and where he should not be”.

The group believes the young man should not be in the criminal justice system and should instead be going through the asylum process.


In response to yesterday’s riot, control and restraint teams were sent in to bring the men in the prison yard back to their cells.

A number of the prisoners were injured in scuffles with prison staff and 11 were taken to Tallaght Hospital for treatment. Most are understood to have sustained minor injuries to their hands.

It was not until around 1.30am this morning after protracted negotiations that the two prisoners on the roof came down.

Both gardaí and prison authorities are now investigating the circumstances of the incident.

Today the prison governor debriefed staff on the incident and disciplinary procedures against inmates commenced.

A spokesperson for the prison service said the priority now is on “establishing all facts in relation to the incident” to ensure it does not happen again in the future.

Gardaí are conducting a separate investigation into the riot as a criminal incident.

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

First published 9.30am

Related: Cloverhill riot: Prisoners injured, two climb onto roof>

Read: Four prison officers injured in attack at reception of Cloverhill>

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