The defense lawyer of an Afghan migrant accused of stabbing a woman to death in Ireland last week has claimed his client should be given bail as the prison service may not adequately accommodate his religious needs during Ramadan.
Habib Shamel, a 26-year-old who arrived in Dublin from Afghanistan in October 2020 and claimed asylum, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Saturday after being charged with the murder of Geila Ibram, a 27-year-old Romanian national.
The court heard how the victim’s mutilated body was found at an apartment building in the Irish city of Limerick on Tuesday. She died from multiple stab wounds during what police say was a “vicious and frenzied attack.”
A police investigation led to Shamel after messages on the victim’s phone revealed a “sexual exchange” had been arranged between the Afghan national and his victim on the day of the attack, and CCTV footage showed Shamel leaving the victim’s address shortly after arriving at around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.
Shamel, who is understood to have injured himself in the attack, attended the local hospital before fleeing to Belfast in Northern Ireland later that day. He was eventually arrested by local police on Friday.
Shamel’s defense lawyer made a bail application to the court on the grounds that the accused, as a practicing Muslim, would not have his religious needs adequately catered for by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
“He is very religious and is required to observe religious customs which occur at sunrise and sunset,” the lawyer told the court.
“He also has to fast during set parts of the day due to Ramadan and is also required to wash himself with water after each prayer session.
“We are concerned about the ability of the prison service to accommodate these religious observances,” they added.
Bail was contested by the prosecution who argued Shamel represents a significant flight risk and could seek to abscond to mainland Britain.
“This is obviously a very grave offense which is evidenced by a strong prosecution case. There is also a risk of flight and further offending and I consider it far too high a risk in both cases to grant bail,” ruled the magistrate.
Legal aid was granted for the defendant who is due to appear again before the court via video link on May 2.