Afghan asylum seeker killed in Southampton

February 12, 2003

Written by Arun Kundnani

Police have launched a murder inquiry after a 22-year-old Afghan asylum seeker was found unconscious at his home in Southampton on Monday 10 February.

Mohammed Isa Hasan Ali had survived imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Taliban regime. But a year and a half after seeking asylum in Britain, he was murdered.

According to his housemates, he left his home in Southampton’s Bevois Valley area at around 10pm on Saturday night and headed into the city centre. At around 2am on Sunday morning he walked back home through a city park, where detectives believe a gang of five to six men attacked him. A post mortem has found that he died as a result of a blow to the back of the head, which caused a fracture to the skull.

Mohammed Isa Hasan Ali managed to make it back home and reported the incident to the other asylum seekers he lived with. He then went to bed, apparently believing that he did not need medical assistance. The next day he got up but then told his friends that he was feeling ill and went back to bed. Only by Monday lunchtime did it become clear that the 22-year-old needed treatment but he died shortly after arriving at Southampton General Hospital.

Police officers investigating the case have not ruled out links with other attacks on asylum seekers and say that the murder could be racially motivated. Four Afghans have been attacked in the past two months in Southampton. A police spokesperson said: ‘We are working closely with the community to ascertain whether anyone else has been the victim of an assault such as this and may be able to help the inquiry.’

Mohammed Isa Hasan Ali entered the UK via Dover in June 2001 and had been accommodated in Newcastle before coming to Southampton. Prior to his seeking refuge in Britain, he had been imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban, an ordeal which led to loss of sight in one eye and severe lacerations to his back.

Around 450 asylum seekers are accommodated in the city by the National Asylum Support Service. A further 110 asylum seekers are held at Haslar detention centre, a former prison at nearby Gosport. Gosport has also been chosen as the site of a new accommodation centre for 400 asylum seekers – provoking protests from locals who are against asylum seekers living in the area.

In the last two years, four other asylum seekers have been murdered on the streets of Britain:

  • Gian Singh Nagra, 37, was found with serious injuries after he was beaten across the head with a golf club in Elm Park, east London, in January 2001 in a racially motivated attack. He died later in hospital.
  • In March 2001, 24-year-old Kosovan asylum seeker Fetah Marku was murderd in Edgware, north London, by a gang of men.
  • In August 2001, Firsat Dag, a 22-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker who had been dispersed to the Sighthill estate in Glasgow, was stabbed to death on his way home.
  • In August 2002, Peiman Bahmani, a 28-year-old asylum seeker from Iran, was stabbed to death in Hendon, Sunderland.

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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