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Teenager accuses police after investigation into racist attack

A STUDENT who was assaulted and racially abused in a park has complained to police about the handling of the case.

OFFICIAL COMPLAINT: Lawyer Aamer Anwar and Mr Yaqoob detail their grievance against police. Picture: Colin Mearns
OFFICIAL COMPLAINT: Lawyer Aamer Anwar and Mr Yaqoob detail their grievance against police. Picture: Colin Mearns

Sonoo Yaqoob, 19, said he thought he was going to die while being attacked by a gang in Queen's Park, in the south side of Glasgow.

He suffered a puncture wound to his back and bruising to his body and said he had post-traumatic stress as a result.

Mr Yaqoob, who lives in Cambuslang, said he had not had any contact from police since the attack last June, aside from one letter telling him an officer would be in touch.

The teenager, along with his parents and three younger sisters, fled Pakistan in 2001 after receiving death threats for being Christian and they settled in Scotland soon after.

Yesterday he lodged a complaint with Police Scotland through his lawyer, Aamer Anwar, who said the force had "fundamentally failed" in its duty to investigate the race crime.

He said officers took a statement from Mr Yaqoob while he was in the Victoria Infirmary, where he was rushed for treatment following the attack on June 24.

When the teenager had not been contacted by officers three days later, he and his father, Morris, 50, attended Aikenhead Road police office to be advised that the officer dealing with the case was off duty, the lawyer said.

But Mr Yaqoob told a press conference yesterday he is still to be spoken to by police, seven months later.

Police said they had made "several attempts" to contact Mr Yaqoob but the victim and his lawyer dispute this.

In a letter to Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, Mr Anwar said: "There has been a fundamental failure to investigate this incident at the reporting, recording, investigation, management and prevention stages.

"We would submit that the failures of officers to deal with the serious assault on Mr Yaqoob in the absence of any other explanation is an example of institutional racism."

Mr Yaqoob, a second-year mechanical engineering student at Langside College in Glasgow, said he was walking through the park at about 2.30pm on the day of the attack with two friends.

He said three girls, aged about 14-16, started shouting racial abuse at them and told them, "Go back to your own country". The teenager said 10 boys then approached, followed by another five, and his two friends ran away. He said: "They all surrounded me and started shouting in my face. They said, 'You think you can kill our soldiers, we will kill you'."

Mr Anwar said this language could be linked to the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, who was attacked and killed outside army barracks in Woolwich, London, last May 22.

Mr Yaqoob added: "They were racially abusive to me and two of them made reference to killing me.

"I was hit with bottles and then I felt a sharp pain in my back while I was being kicked about. I thought it was a syringe needle or screwdriver, I'm not sure.

"I thought they were going to kill me.

"When I was in hospital a police officer came and took a statement from me. He also took my clothes for DNA and fingerprint testing."

Mr Anwar said he would have expected police officers to follow up by visiting Mr Yaqoob to take a detailed statement, whilst also carrying out door to door inquiries and forensic analysis.

A police spokeswoman said: "Several attempts have been made to contact Mr Yaqoob since the incident and we were unaware of his concerns regarding this investigation until the complaint was received this afternoon.

"The complaint will of course be investigated thoroughly.

"Hate crime is a force priority and we do not accept the inference that it is not taken seriously."

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