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Four Courts

Somali-born fugitive fighting his extradition to Sweden refused bail by High Court

Yusuf was arrested by gardaí at a petrol station in Dundalk, Co Louth, in November.

A SOMALI-BORN fugitive who is fighting his extradition to Sweden, where he was sentenced to three years for attacking police officers during a riot over the burning of the Quran, has been refused bail by the High Court.

Rejecting Abdisalan Abdulkadir Yusuf’s bail application today, Ms Justice Melanie Greally said the court was concerned that he appeared to have travelled to Ireland without his passport.

Yusuf (25), who has dual Swedish-Somali nationality, fled Sweden following his conviction for violent behaviour and was arrested by gardaí at a petrol station in Dundalk, Co Louth on 19 November, last on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

Ms Justice Greally said “the most obvious inference” was that Yusuf had left Sweden to avoid having to serve a “lengthy” prison sentence there.

Yusuf fled Sweden after being sentenced to three years in prison in June 2023. The riots were a reaction to a Danish far-right politician touring the country and burning the Quran in several areas, including in the capital Stockholm.

The riots lasted for several days and more than a dozen police officers were injured. Yusuf was one of a number of people arrested and charged. He was convicted of attacking police, but was released on bail before he could begin his sentence.

The extradition warrant relates to Yusuf committing three offences in April 2022; namely one count of gross sabotage of emergency service activities and two counts of attempted gross violence against two members of the police.

The warrant states that Yusuf assaulted and disturbed the police by using violence and threats of violence against them, by damaging police vehicles that were used in these activities and by other measures.

The warrant continues that after a person announced on social media that he was going to go to the Navestad district in Norrkoping municipality in Sweden on 16 April, 2022 to attend a burning of the Quran, a large crowd gathered there.

“In the crowd, a very large number of individuals acted with intentional and joint violence against police officers and police property,” the warrant reads.

The violence consisted of extensive rock throwing and kicks and strikes with blunt objects directed at police officers, police dogs and vehicles. Incendiary bombs, bangers and other loose objects were also thrown at the police and police vehicles, with several officers injured and vehicles damaged during the riot.

The warrant states that Abdisalan Abdulkadir Yusuf, who was wearing a mask, ran towards the police while armed with a pointed wood pole. He is also said to have encouraged other rioters in their criminal actions.

The warrant states that Yusuf also attempted gross violence against two officers as they tried to maintain order by throwing “a pointed wood pole at the police”.

Yusuf sought bail at the High Court over two days this week, where Detective Garda Tony Keane, of the Garda Extradition Unit, told Leanora Frawley BL, for the Minister for Justice, that Yusuf arrived in Ireland in August 2023 and that gardai had made efforts to locate him at Emer Terrace, Dundalk in Co Louth, where his family was residing. The detective said Yusuf was not present at the address at the time.

The detective added: “I was told he was not residing there and was living with friends, basically couch surfing. We left the house and conducted a number of inquiries and had reason to attend a local petrol station where I identified Mr Yusuf sitting inside the petrol station with a hood over his head speaking on the phone to one of his siblings and that he was staying there until we left the area”.

Detective Garda Keane told the judge that his concern was that Yusuf would not make himself available to the court if granted bail and that the respondent had stayed away from the house when he [the detective] had provided his name and contact details to the respondent’s father. “Unfortunately we had to find him,” he added.

The detective said he had enquired from Yusuf’s father about his son’s travel documents. “His father said the travel documents were returned to Sweden and I made contact with my counterpart in Sweden and they are not aware of any having been returned to them,” he said.

Under cross-examination, the detective told Thomas Horan BL, for the respondent, that Yusuf had returned from Sweden to assist his father who was unable to work and was on disability allowance.

In his submissions, Mr Horan said when his client was released from custody in Sweden in January 2023 he had surrendered his passport, which is now expired, to Swedish police.

The detective said today it wouldn’t assuage him that the respondent’s father was prepared to put forward an independent surety of €3,000 on behalf of his son.

Ms Frawley, for the Minister for Justice, told the judge that Yusuf’s position was he had lodged an appeal against his sentence but that Swedish authorities said the appeal had not been lodged.

The lawyer also said that inquiries made by Det Gda Keane found that Yusuf had not given his passport to police in Sweden.

Mr Horan said today that the respondent no longer intended to proffer his father as an independent surety but another independent surety, who would offer €5,000, could come to court next week.

Counsel said his client had left Sweden to come back to Ireland to look after his family.

Ms Justice Greally replied: “That’s what he [Yusuf] said. There is obviously some tenuous link between his departure from Sweden following his conviction and his arrival in Ireland”. She said it seemed that the respondent had travelled to Ireland without a passport.

Mr Horan said the respondent had travelled on a national identity card issued by Swedish authorities.

Returning judgment today, Ms Justice Greally said the bail application was related to a European Arrest Warrant based on a conviction for public order offences involving “quite violent incidents”, which occurred in Sweden in April 2022. She said it was accepted that the presumption in favour of granting bail did not apply to conviction cases.

The judge said the court must have regard to the seriousness of the event and more importantly the length of the sentence left to be served, which is three years.

She accepted that Yusuf had ties to the jurisdiction and that his family were “embedded” in Ireland.

“He returned to Ireland in August of this year and the conviction order became final it seems on the basis of information we received on September 5, 2023. It is suggested that the purpose of coming to Ireland was to assist with his family finances but the most obvious inference is that he left Sweden to avoid having to serve the prison sentence, which was becoming in imminent danger of being finalised,” continued the judge.

Ms Justice Greally said the respondent’s work history had been substantiated from payslips from a hotel and ‘BoyleSports’ but that they were not evidence of employment and indeed “very scant evidence”.

The second issue, she said, which caused the court concern was that Yusuf had travelled to Ireland without his passport. “There is significant doubt as to where that passport is, he claims to have a national identity card from Sweden and claims to have travelled on that but that has not been made available and is not capable of verification at this time”.

Ms Justice Greally said the court was of the view that the respondent posed a significant flight risk due to the “lengthy sentence to be served in Sweden”.

She said there was a significant risk that if Yusuf was granted bail he would not remain in this jurisdiction and would seek to avoid the “consequence of sentence” in Sweden.

Ms Justice Greally refused to grant the respondent bail and remanded him in custody until February 7, when the full hearing for his surrender to Sweden will take place.