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Prison terms for two who helped Iraqi man fake his own death

The case led to Finland receiving a negative ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in 2019.

Syytetty ja oikeusavustajat Helsingin käräjäoikeudessa.
One of the defendants with her lawyers in court last month. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle
Yle News

Helsinki District Court has sentenced two defendants to prison in the case of an Iraqi man whose death was faked in an effort to deceive Finnish authorities.

The former couple misled authorities and courts into thinking that the woman's father had been killed in Iraq in 2017. The woman obtained a Finnish residence permit using forged documents.

On Thursday, the court sentenced the woman to a year and ten months in prison. Her ex-husband's prison sentence is one month longer.

They were convicted on counts of aggravated forgery and aggravated fraud. The woman was also found guilty of perjury when she had lied at an asylum hearing on the alleged persecution of her father in Iraq.

The court sentenced the man to a longer prison term based on witness accounts showing that he had taken a more active role than the woman in organising the scam.

The defendants can still contest the rulings at the Court of Appeal, which could shorten or extend their sentences. The maximum penalty for aggravated fraud and aggravated forgery is four years behind bars.

The woman had confessed to the crimes, while the man had denied them. However, the court declared that the evidence proved his guilt.

The Iraqi man, whose fake death was at the centre of the case, arrived in Finland in 2015 with his daughter and son. After his asylum application was rejected, he returned to his homeland in November 2017.

Just weeks after his return, he was allegedly shot on the street in Baghdad. The Iraqi police later found him at the request of Finnish police, but he has not been extradited to Finland.

Woman paid €24,500 in damages and legal fees

The man's daughter took the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), blaming Finnish authorities for his supposed death, and also seeking personal damages for suffering caused to her by her father’s expulsion and death.

In November 2019, Finland received a negative decision from the court, which ruled that it had violated the European Convention on Human Rights when processing the man's asylum application. This was the first time Finland had been found guilty of breaching Article 2 of the convention.

The ECHR rejected the woman's complaint related to her own alleged suffering, calling it "manifestly ill-founded". However, it ordered the Finnish state to pay her 24,500 euros in damages and legal fees.

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