Lawyers for a man accused of raping a woman who was seeking asylum have suggested to the alleged victim that her objective in meeting the defendant was to secure residency here.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of rape, one of sexual assault and one of attempted rape of the woman in his Dublin home on various occasions over the weekend of December 1st to December 3rd, 2017.
His trial began on Tuesday and his lawyer Eanna Molloy SC began cross-examining the 36-year-old complainant on Thursday morning.
The jury have already heard her testify that she came to Ireland in November 2017 to attend a conference outside of Dublin county.
She decided to seek asylum here in order to flee from an arranged marriage in her home country. She travelled to Dublin to file an application with the International Protection Office (IPO).
She was told about a particular centre that could help her and a contact in this centre then told her about a mosque in Dublin.
She said she became aware that there was a service that was provided to the Muslim community where they could arrange meetings between people who were interested in getting married. She was introduced to the accused through this mosque and they met a number of times.
She has testified that after a ceremony took place in a smaller mosque the man took her back to his flat and raped her a number of times over the course of three days.
Mr Molloy, defending, put it to the woman that in December 2018 the IPO found that "there was no risk of persecution or personal harm" to her if she returned to her native country. He said that a week after this decision the Department of Justice decided that "you would be permitted to stay on in Ireland because of exceptional humanitarian reasons".
“The reason you were permitted to stay on had nothing to do with [your country of origin] and everything to do with this case,” he said. She said she was only informed that she hadn’t been granted refugee status but was granted permission to stay but was not given any other explanation.
Mr Molloy put it to her that her application to the IPO was another “string to your bow” to secure residency here and that wish was also why she went along with the ceremony in the mosque.
The woman denied this and said that she had never heard of anything called a Nikah ceremony before as it wasn’t part of her culture in her Arabic national state.
She said that her belief was that she and the defendant were agreeing to get to know each other.
“You had misgivings about this ceremony but went along with it. That course of action carried on over the weekend,” counsel said.
The woman said this wasn’t the case, that she trusted the defendant and believed he had good intentions. She said her mistake was trusting him and that this was naive.
“You are not a naive person but find it useful to give that impression from time to time,” counsel asked her. She denied this.
He said her objective was to secure “the Promised Land” of residency in Ireland. She denied this and said that seeking marriage had nothing to do with her asylum application.
Mr Molloy put it to her that when the woman in the mosque marriage service told her about the accused, the fact that he was a “naturalised Irish citizen” was “one of his unique selling points”. She said this woman hadn’t mentioned his status, “she just spoke nicely about him”.
The court heard that after the alleged assaults the accused drove the woman back to her accommodation on Sunday and they continued to communicate via text messages and phone calls over the following days.
She said during a lengthy call on Monday evening they discussed his meetings with his own lawyers about his divorce proceedings.
She told the court he became very angry and was shouting at her and telling her “not to tell anyone”. She said “there was nothing said regards to doing anything with me in legal terms”.
The jury heard that before this phone call she texted the woman from the mosque, stating “please call [defendant] asap, I really smell a rat and I don’t want to lose more”.
The witness told the jury that at this point her feeling was that “something was taken from me against my will, that’s my body, nobody has the right to do that.
“When you ask them why, they tell you are a mistake and they are not going to (do anything). I am not a mistake,” she said.
She told the court that for the last three years she has repeatedly asked herself why she went back with the defendant in his car after the alleged attacks.
The trial continues.