UK & World News

  • 30 March 2014, 21:29

Student's Despair As Immigration Death Probed

Mauritian student Yashika Bageerathi has told Sky News about her despair - as investigators probe the death of a fellow immigration centre detainee.

Miss Bageerathi said she feared she could be deported at any time despite being given another last minute reprieve earlier today.

Her supporters believe she was spared the journey because an airline - Air Mauritius - refused to take her back to Mauritius as expected this afternoon.

Miss Bageerathi was told by a Home Office official it was due to "technical problems" with the plane.

Speaking from inside Yarl's Wood on Saturday night, she told Sky News: "I'm just upset today...I was happy yesterday because the flight was cancelled but I just don't know what might happen next.

"I might get a ticket today, tomorrow - like they did last time."

The Home Office confirmed tonight that they had launched an investigation into a "sudden" and "unexplained" death of a 40-year-old woman at Yarl's Wood.

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said: "Sadly, we can confirm the death of a female detainee at Yarl's Wood on March 30.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further as the death is subject to a police investigation.

"The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed in line with standard procedure."

Ms Bageerathi added: "I am really hoping to get out from here - I want to be in school, I just want to be in school." 

Campaigners fighting to prevent her removal said they think the latest reprieve was because the airline did not want to carry her in the face of protests.

More than 40 people took part in a demonstration outside Parliament on Saturday afternoon, and an online petition has received almost 155,000 signatures.

Lynne Dawes, the principal of Oasis Academy Hadley school in north London, which Miss Bageerathi's attends, told Sky News: "We believe now that Air Mauritius refused to fly her."

It comes after British Airways appeared to refuse to allow her to board a flight from Gatwick Airport last week.

Ms Dawes said: "I know a lot of people have signed our petition and are really supporting Yashika.

"I can only think that maybe they have listened to what people are saying, that they feel it's wrong for Yashika to be sent back by herself, but we have no official information on this."

Miss Bageerathi's lawyers were now trying to understand what was happening and plan their next steps.

The campaign so far had been paid for by charitable donations.

Miss Bageerathi came to the UK in 2011 with her mother and two younger siblings to escape alleged physical abuse by a relative, and claimed asylum in the summer of 2013.

At school she was described as a first-class student, until she was detained at Yarl's Wood on March 19.

Home Secretary Theresa May has said it would not be appropriate to "interfere" with the case.

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