A MAN detained in Cork prison for the last three weeks after his passport was confiscated has lost his High Court bid for his release on foot of a claim that he is unlawfully detained.
The man, who claims he is 31-year-old Lithuanian Nikoloy Mavlanov and had been staying in Skibbereen since January, was detained at Cork Airport on February 22nd after UK authorities refused him entry after he arrived on a flight from Ireland, confiscated his passport and sent him back to Cork.
On arrival he was detained by gardaí and has been held at Cork Prison since. He had brought an application under Article 40 of the Constitution for an inquiry into the lawfulness of his detention.
The State had argued that his detention, which can only last for a maximum of 56 days, was legal under the provisions of the 2004 Immigration Act, pending his removal from the State.
Yesterday Mr Justice John Hedigan found that the man was legally detained, and dismissed his application to be released.
Counsel for the man, Ciaran O'Loughlin SC, argued the detention was unlawful on the grounds that he could only be kept in prison on the grounds that the State was taking steps to have his client removed from Ireland.
He claimed that all that was happening was an inquiry into the validity of a passport, and that steps were not being taken to deport him. Mr O'Loughlin said his client could not be indefinitely detained while inquiries about his ID were taking place.
His client had always said that the passport was his. His client, an EU national who had been staying with his girlfriend in Skibbereen in Cork, had travelled from Cork to Stansted Airport in London on February 21st and was refused entry before being sent back to Cork.
Detective Garda Patrick Wallace told counsel for the State Anthony Moore BL that after the man was detained at Cork Airport he made several inquiries about the man's ID to the Lithuanian authorities and their embassy.
He told the court that they furnished him with a passport application form made by a Nikoloy Mavlanov in 2003. He said that the photo of the person who made that application was not the person whom he had detained at Cork Airport.
Detective Sgt Eddie O'Callaghan told Mr Moore that the man did not give his name or fully co-operate when he spoke to him on February 22nd, and on subsequent visits to Cork Prison in March. He said that when he asked the man for his real name he had replied "maybe later". He said that it is intended to deport the man, but that cannot be done until his identity is established.
Under cross-examination from Mr O'Loughlin he accepted that the man's girlfriend of 18 months and three to four others had identified the man as Mr Mavlanov.
Detective Willie Jackman of the Garda Forensic Bureau told the court that it was his belief that the passport seized by the UK authorities, which was sent to him, had been altered. He said there were tiny air pockets under the lamination and that the photo was not laser-engraved as it should be.
In his judgment Mr Justice Hedigan said that while it was "disturbing" that he could be held for up to 56 days, the man, who clearly had a false passport, was the author of his own misfortune by not "clearly establishing his identity".