Asylum-seeker 'assaulted by British security guards'

A science graduate from Cameroon, who came to Britain to enlist in the Royal Navy, is facing deportation while the Home Office investigates claims that he was assaulted by seven guards at an immigration detention centre.

Penda Youdjeu, 28, described by his British doctor as a "gentle, intellectual young man", fled his homeland after he and his father were persecuted for campaigning for greater political freedom. He moved to Britain in 2005 and applied to join the Navy.

While awaiting a response, he went to Sweden to study for an MSc at university. When he returned to the UK last month for a Navy interview, he was arrested for allegedly carrying false documents. He was taken to a detention centre in Cambridgeshire before being sent to a removal facility near Heathrow airport.

Mr Youdjeu, who claims his passport and visa were stolen by a man who arranged his travel to England, said he was visited in his room by guards late one evening last month. He added: "They had already told my room-mate to leave. I was talking on my mobile to another friend and they told me to put the phone down. There were seven of them, all wearing armour and shields.

"They told me I had to go and they pushed me against the wall, then kicked my legs from under me so that I hit the floor and banged my head."

Mr Youdjeu alleged that one of the guards swore at him as the others pushed his arms back. He added: "I was screaming at them, 'Don't break my arms, I came here because I was invited by the Navy. I am not a criminal, I have never stolen anything or done anything wrong. Why are you treating me like a terrorist?'

"Each one of them had a part of my body and was doing something to it. Then they bundled me up and carried me down the stairs so my body was bent double."

A doctor who later examined Mr Youdjeu said in a report: "The shoulder abrasions, bruises and the lack of movement at the right wrist and neck are all highly consistent with the rough handling Mr Youdjeu describes."

Mr Youdjeu's deportation was postponed and he was placed in solitary confinement for three days. His lawyers, Birnberg Peirce and Partners, have urged the Home Office to halt attempts to send him back to Cameroon, saying he is in fear of further retribution from the regime of President Paul Biya. They have also accused the Home Office of trying to remove him from Britain before his assault allegation is fully investigated.

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency insisted Mr Youdjeu was appropriately restrained after becoming violent. He added: "Detention and removal is an essential part of effective immigration controls, but it is vital that it is done with humanity and dignity and we are committed to ensuring this is the case."

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