Finland charges pair for faking asylum seeker’s death

Two people who allegedly helped an asylum seeker stage his own murder, after his case was refused, have been charged with fraud in Finland, prosecutors announced Friday.

One of the accused, a 24-year-old woman, claimed her father had been shot dead in Baghdad in December 2017, one month after his asylum application in Finland was rejected and he voluntarily returned to Iraq. 

The presumed death had sweeping implications for Finland, which temporarily halted deportations and in November 2019 was ordered by judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to pay the family 20,000 euros ($23,700) in compensation for violating the man’s human rights. 

But in April this year, investigators in Finland announced they believed the man was still alive. 

“The charges allege that documents presented to the European Court of Human Rights relating to the death of the asylum seeker were false, and relevant certificates were falsified,” prosecutors said in a statement published Friday. 

Prosecution documents seen by AFP claim that the man’s daughter and her former partner knowingly attempted to defraud the courts in order to secure a residence permit in Finland for the daughter and her own child. 

The pair now faces charges of aggravated fraud, punishable by up to four years in prison.  

The woman “partly confessed” during the pre-trial investigation while the man denies all charges, the prosecutor said.

In its ruling, the ECHR did point out that only photocopies of Iraqi documents pertaining to the man’s death were submitted to Finnish authorities, and that their authenticity could therefore not be verified.

Nonetheless, the court ruled that Finland was in breach of articles two and three of the European Convention of Human Rights, as domestic authorities should have been aware “that the applicant’s father could be exposed to a danger to life or a risk of ill-treatment upon his return to Iraq.”