Minister of Justice Leena Meri and Minister of Economic Affairs Wille Rydman of the Finns Party were photographed arriving for the government’s budget session at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on 19 September 2023. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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MINISTER of Justice Leena Meri (PS) states that the government will look into possible loopholes in the legislation on extraditions following an investigative report published on Saturday by Helsingin Sanomat.

The report was about Faraidun Latif Sharif, an Iraqi man who has been convicted of commissioning the murder of his Norwegian wife in Kurdistan, Iraq, in 2004.

Latif Sharif, the newspaper wrote, was sentenced to death by hanging along with the two men who carried out the murder – acquaintances of him, according to local police – albeit with assurances that he would not be executed on account of his Norwegian nationality. He was one of eleven prisoners who reportedly escaped from the Zirga prison in Duhok, a northern governorate in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in January 2012.

He arrived in Finland in February 2014, filing an asylum claim under a different name in which he claimed he was a Syrian national fleeing conscription in civil war-torn Syria.

Even though Finnish authorities had reason to doubt the story due to his contradictory accounts, use of forged documents and damaged fingertips, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) granted him an asylum for four years in late 2015 after determining that he is likely from Syria.

Latif Sharif lived in Finland for two years before catching the attention of authorities. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) warned Migri in 2017 that the man could pose a threat to national security.

Such statements can be issued only if the subject has ties to terrorism, illegal espionage or other activity with ramifications for national security.

The man is unlikely to be extradited, according to Helsingin Sanomat. International treaties forbid the extradition of people to countries where they are under threat of death penalty, torture or persecution. Extradition to Norway, meanwhile, is impossible due to language in the national legislation that has been identified as needing attention for years, state prosecutor Tuuli Eerolainen estimated to the daily newspaper on Sunday.

“I’ll contact the ministry’s department of criminal policy and criminal law as soon as today and ask for an inquiry into whether there’s loophole in the legislation and what could be done about it,” she said.

Neither Iraq nor Norway has called for the extradition of Latif Sharif.

Minister Meri stated to Helsingin Sanomat that she cannot comment on any individual cases.

“On a general level you can say that if someone has been convicted of murder, they should have to serve their punishment in some country. You shouldn’t be able to get away with murder,” she underscored.

Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) said to Helsingin Sanomat that her ministry is already drafting revisions to a provision in the aliens act that pertains to the verification of identity in order to strengthen the verification duty of authorities.

“[The provision] is written somewhat unclearly, and the intention is to re-write it,” she told. “The Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Justice must both look into what we can do to plug loopholes in legislation. If there are any loopholes, they’ll be plugged.”

“I won’t comment on an individual case, but I’ll say on a general level that it’s absolutely clear that this kind of thing surely doesn’t align with anyone’s sense of justice. It’s good that these kind of things are brought up,” she added.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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