The ex-husband of the woman whose father allegedly died in Iraq in December 2017, only a few weeks after his voluntary return from Finland, at the District Court of Helsinki on 11 January 2021. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE DISTRICT COURT of Helsinki on Thursday handed down prison sentences to two people for fabricating the death of an asylum seeker deported from Finland to Iraq.

The former married couple had misled officials and courts of law to believe the father of the female defendant had been shot dead in Iraq in December 2017, only a few weeks after returning voluntarily from Finland.

The defendants had corroborated their with four documents forged with the help of accomplices in Iraq.

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The fraudulent scheme resulted in the woman being granted a residence permit in Finland. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Finland to pay the woman 20,000 euros in compensation, an order that was not heeded on grounds of the pre-trial investigation into the suspected fraud.

The District Court of Helsinki sentenced the woman to one year and 10 months and her ex-husband to one year and 11 months in prison for aggravated fraud and two counts of aggravated forgery. The woman was also found guilty of false statement in official proceedings for claiming in her asylum interview that her father had been the victim of persecution in Iraq.

Her ex-husband, however, was handed the longer prison sentence because the court ruled that he had had a more active role in machinating the fraud.

The woman had confessed and the man rejected the charges, but the court ruled that practically all of the evidence pointed to the guilt of the defendants. Prosecutor Sampsa Hakala said yesterday he is pleased with the ruling especially because of the damage caused by the scheme on Finland.

“The actions have inflicted considerable damage on the Finnish state – not only significant financial damage, but also negative publicity,” he stated. “The European Court of Human Rights was used as an instrument in a case for the first time ever.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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