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Iranian deported to Iraq to sue Swedish police

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The Swedes sent the man to Baghdad by mistake. File: AP/TT
13:23 CET+01:00
The man deported to the wrong country will sue the Swedish state after three torturous years in a Baghdad jail cell. A lie on his asylum papers appears to have confused the Swedish police, who sent him to Iraq rather than Iran.

"The cell was so narrow I couldn't sleep well, Baghdad prison is dirty... and the guards often hit me in the head and chest," Abbas Haj Ali told Sveriges Radio (SR) on Thursday. 

Haj Ali came to Sweden eleven years ago. He has admitted he said he was from Iraq at first, because he thought it would increase his chance of being granted asylum. In truth, he hailed from southern Iran, where he was among the Arab minority among the Persians. While Sweden's Migration Board (Migrationsverket) quickly discovered the incorrect information he supplied, the police would in the end deport him to Iraq.

"They likely looked at his files, saw documents from Iraq, and then decided to send him to Iraq," Haj Ali's lawyer Emma Persson told SR.

Upon touchdown in Baghdad, Haj Ali was arrested for carrying forged documents. In Sweden, meanwhile, his lawyer reported the incorrect deportation to the European Court of Justice and the Swedish police confessed to their error. And while the Foreign Ministry said its staff would do what it could, Haj Ali spent three years in prison.

He is now back in Sweden - missing several teeth, having developed diabetes, and suffering from depression.

"I thought, 'I'm gonna die here and I will never again see my children'," said Haj Ali, who has anew applied for asylum. He has not seen his daughters since he left Iran eleven years ago. The youngest was an infant when he left.

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"She cries every time we speak on the phone," Haj Ali said. "I've only ever seen her picture."

His lawyer now plans to sue the Swedish state for the incorrect deportation.

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