Man who fled the Taliban appears in Letterkenny Court

December 8, 2022

A man suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has appeared in court charged with two counts of criminal damage.

Letterkenny District Court was told that Siraj Zazai is an Afghan refugee who had fled from the Taliban.

The 23-year-old of The Nooke, Rosemount Lane, Letterkenny, hails from the Helmand Province – widely regarded as the most dangerous in Afghanistan.

Zazai was charged with damaging property, namely the door and a chair at an apartment at The Nooke. When Gardai arrived at the scene, Zazai said the place was ‘too dirty and too noisy’, said Sergeant Jim Collins.

Zazai was also separately charged with damaging property at Dunne’s Stores, namely a L’Oréal product valued at €30.

Solicitor for Zazai, Mr Rory O’Brien, said his client has been travelling for the past two years ‘seeking safety and sanctuary’ and arrived in Letterkenny six months ago.

“He has seen and suffered a lot,” Mr O’Brien said. “He has been in the grips of PTSD and dealing with the exposure of what he had to see and hear.”

Mr O’Brien said Zazai’s intention was to come to Europe and seek help.

“Otherwise, he would have faced punishment from the Taliban,” he said.

Regarding damage to a door and a chair at an apartment, Mr O’Brien said Zazai ‘just snapped’ due to noise.

He said: “He lives with a number of other men and this arose from a situation where they were drinking.”

At Dunne’s Stores, Mr O’Brien said his client ‘lost his temper for a moment’.

“He does not have a work permit and was provided with a gift card. It couldn’t be exchanged so he asked an individual if he could pay for her groceries on the basis that he could then be reimbursed.

“The customer took offence and reported it to a manager. All he tried to do was protest and explain. He is a young man who needs a small bit of help.”

Zazai was seeking to buy halal meat, which is not sold in Dunne’s, when he tried to exchange the voucher, Mr O’Brien said.

His client is in receipt of only €38 per week and was, therefore, of ‘limited means’, Mr O’Brien said.

Judge Éiteáin Cunningham said she was conscious of Zazai’s limited means and that his particular circumstances were ‘very onerous’.

Judge Cunningham adjourned the case until December 19.