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UK student to be charged after Syrian refugee attacked

A teenage boy is to be charged with assault after a video emerged of a Syrian refugee being attacked in the ...

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 3:33 PM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 3:33 PM

A teenage boy is to be charged with assault after a video emerged of a Syrian refugee being attacked in the grounds of a UK school.

In the video, the 15-year-old Syrian boy is taunted, grabbed by the throat and pushed to the ground, as other students look on.

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It was not clear who shot the video of the incident, which occurred last month at a school in Huddersfield, northern England.

The video prompted widespread condemnation, and an online fundraising effort had reached £75,000 (about $95,000) by Wednesday afternoon, a day after being launched.

West Yorkshire police said Wednesday that a 16-year-old youth had been interviewed and reported for summons for assault, and that he would appear at a juvenile court in due course.

"The incident occurred on 25 October this year and has been subject to thorough investigation since it was reported to us the day after. The victim and his family are receiving ongoing support from police and other agencies," the police said.

The police also confirmed that the Syrian boy, seen in the video with a cast on his left forearm, had a wrist injury from a "previous unconnected incident" on October 7. Three youths were interviewed over that incident.

"There was no further police action and the matter was referred to the school," the police said.

A lawyer representing the family of the boy, London-based Mohammed Akunjee, told CNN that the family had fled from Homs in Syria to Lebanon. The boy and his family then settled in Huddersfield under a UN program in 2016.

The lawyer said members of their family had been abducted and tortured by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One family member was killed, he said.

In a Twitter post, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman described the video as "absolutely shocking."

"Have been supporting the family since it was first brought to my attention. Understand from council that the school have taken strong action. Will be following up to ensure all available support is being given!" he wrote.

The incident happened at the Almondbury Community School, which describes itself as "inclusive" on its website.

The school's head teacher, Trevor Bowen, said in a statement that the safety and welfare of students was the school's "number one priority" and that the "situation is being taken extremely seriously."

"Since the incident occurred in October, the school, the local authority and the police have all taken action. We must allow the legal process to take its course, but I want to be absolutely clear that we do not tolerate unacceptable behavior of any sort in our school."

Mohammed Tahir, who set up the GoFundMe fundraising campaign, said in a statement posted on Twitter: "I'm overwhelmed by the support that we've received and I can't thank everyone enough for the generous donations they have made.

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