North African ‘runway runaways’ request humanitarian asylum

The four North Africans arrested after trying to escape immigration control at Lisbon airport last Saturday, are reported to be requesting humanitarian asylum as they claim they have “nothing to eat and nowhere to live” if they are forcibly returned to Algeria.

The men’s defence lawyer Liliana Rute Ferreira told reporters outside Lisbon’s Campus de Justiça court complex yesterday that her clients “had no way of survival” if repatriated.

The young men – all aged between 20 and 25 – are now being held at the SEF detention centre within the airport, pending the next round of judicial decision-making.

According to reports, authorities here now have 60 days to decide the men’s fate.

The charges against them include attempting illegal immigration, invasion of a prohibited space and putting at risk air transport safety.

One of the four, Imed Nouaouira, also faces a charge of violating restricted Schengen space, as he was refused entry into Spain in August last year.

National press has also revealed that two others in the group failed in an attempt to enter France recently.

The fact that one of the men resorted to ‘self-mutilation’ with a blade as he was being arrested on Saturday evening (click here) has been cited by the defence team as an indication of the men’s desperation not to be returned to their home country.

But as newspapers pointed out over the weekend, the fact that a passenger was cleared for travel with a blade on his possession is also extremely worrying. It is also a mystery why the men were cleared for the TAP flight in the first place, given that none of them had relevant entry visas either for Portugal or Cape Verde.

For the first time today, the men have been named. They are: Abdallah Boumarat, Laid Koriche and brothers Imed and Seddick Nouaouira.