Gardaí involved in racist persecution


BELMONDO WANTETE, an electrical engineer from the Congo, has lived in Ireland with his wife and young children for the last four years, and is a legal resident. He had to flee from his own country because of political persecution. Ireland was supposed to be a safe refuge.

Last year, on May 1st, gardaí raided his home at 3am. They had a warrant ...but with someone else's name on it. They shouted threats and racist abuse, and pushed a gun through his letter box. Then they broke in and beat Mr Wantete. His children were dragged from their beds

He was taken to Sundrive Road garda station and held for twelve hours without access to either a solicitor or a translator. He was then held in jail for a week before bail was arranged.

No charges were brought against him, and the gardaí admitted that the warrant was for someone else. No apology was received from the forces of 'law and order'. Weeks later they charged him with assaulting two gardaí during the raid on his home.

On September 6th Mr Wantete was arrested again, once more on foot of a warrant in someone else's name! Despite the fact that identity papers were produced by his solicitor, he was held for five hours.

On the next occasion he was arrested and charged with failing to carry proper ID. When the case went to court, the arresting garda admitted that he knew Mr Wantete well and had no doubts about his identity, but insisted that he had the right to demand specific ID. The judge ruled that the ID produced was correct and sufficient, and dismissed the charge.

There have been numerous other charges for alleged minor motoring offences. Each case has been an excuse to drag him into court again. This has been going on for a whole year, and Mr Wantete has been convicted of absolutely nothing. The charge of assaulting gadaí during the raid on his home will be heard this summer.

Mr Wantete's case has been taken up by neighbours in Dublin's Crumlin and Drimnagh, who have formed Residents Against Racism. They have publicised the harrassment and won the support of community organisations, youth groups, and trade unions like SIPTU, MSF and the GMPU.

For more information contact Rosanna Flynn at 01-4536856.


This article is from Workers Solidarity No 57 published in May 1999