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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Campaigners raise asylum bail
Dungavel
Mr Oguchuckwu was helped by Dungavel protesters
A Nigerian asylum seeker whose case was raised by human rights activists has been freed after a public campaign to raise his bail money.

In the past nine months John Oguchuckwu has been held at Dungavel immigration centre, Lanarkshire, Greenock Prison and the Colnbrook centre, Middlesex.

Supporters, including film director Peter Mullan, were able to raise 2,300 to secure his release.

The 27-year-old former trainee priest is fighting deportation from the UK.

He was denied asylum, but has remained in the country since he launched a civil action to sue security officers who he claimed assaulted him while he was being deported at Heathrow Airport in December.

For nine months I was in a place of steel and locked doors and my heart was becoming so sad and low
John Oguchuckwu
Mr Oguchuckwu, whose hearing was held in Glasgow, was previously at the Dungavel centre for six months, but also spent several months in Greenock Prison after he claimed there were fears he may have attempted to commit suicide.

Most recently, he had been in Colnbrook immigration centre in Middlesex.

Following the hearing, Mr Oguchuckwu said he was "very happy" and "all right".

"What I wanted for nine months is freedom," he said. "I thank the Dungavel bail fund from the depths of my heart and all the people, everyone, who helped me and ask God to bless them."

He added: "For nine months I was in a place of steel and locked doors and my heart was becoming so sad and low. Today I am free and my heart feels God's light."

Peter Mullan
Peter Mullan hit out at government treatment
Mr Mullan, who directed the Magdalene Sisters, said what happened to Mr Oguchuckwu was an "injustice of the highest order".

"All these people have been caught in a Catch-22 - when as a consequence of detention they suffer mental health problems," he said.

"It then gives the government license to put them into prison, where their mental health will suffer even more.

"The fact that people give money demonstrates that Scottish people are more compassionate than our so-called governments."

Fellow Scots director Ken Loach also gave money to the bail fund.

Robina Qureshi, of the charity Positive Action in Housing, said: "He is now free to continue his civil action and fight for his right to refuge through a decent set of lawyers."

Mr Oguchuckwu has instructed his solicitors to prepare a civil action following the alleged incident at Heathrow.

His legal team argued that removing him from the UK while the case was pending would breach his right to a fair hearing.


SEE ALSO:
'Suicidal' man switched to jail
20 Aug 04  |  Scotland
Dungavel death prompts inquiry
24 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Blunkett approval for Dungavel
03 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Dungavel to house more immigrants
23 Dec 03  |  Scotland


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