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Asylum seeker held 18 months on remand

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07:55 CET+01:00
Mehdi Kadirou, a rejected asylum seeker, has been kept locked up for 18 months in an Uppsala cell while the police and migration authorities decide where to return him, according to a report in the local Upsala Nya Tidning newspaper.

"I have not come across another case of a person being held in custody for so long," said Tobias Iwarsson, duty officer at Uppsala remand prison, to the newspaper.

Kadirou's eighteen months on remand has so far cost the penal system 1.2 million kronor ($ 161,000) and is considerably longer than average.

The 29-year-old, who claims to come from Algeria - a country he left as a 13-year-old, describes his situation as "torture-like".

"You can't imagine the nightmare in which I am living. Second after second locked up like an animal," Mehdi Kadirou told the newspaper.

Kadirou came to Sweden in 2007 and applied for asylum. The same year he stole a jacket from a store after threatening staff with a pair of scissors. He was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and then deportation.

After serving his sentence for the robbery, Mehdi Kadirou's problems began.

The Algerian embassy in Stockholm declared itself unwilling to get involved in his case. He is unable to prove his identity as since fleeing the north African country he claims that he has lived on the streets and has never possessed any identity papers.

The Swedish police are working to determine his identity, a process which will be resumed in two months time and could in theory continually indefinitely, the newspaper writes.

According to Swedish law a person may not be held remanded in custody for a period longer than two months unless there are "extreme circumstances".

Tobias Iwarsson is critical that Mehdi Kadirou remains in his care pending the completion of the investigation.

"It would be one thing if he were violent, but this case concerns a diligent person," Iwarsson said.

Kadirou's legal counsel, Helena Jonsson, has submitted a request for her client to be transferred to one of the Migration Board's detention centres during the course of the police investigation but the application has been rejected.

A psychiatrist that has met Mehdi Kadirou in custody has concluded that the long periods of solitary confinement have caused the onset of depression and delusional behaviour.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture under the Council of Europe visited Sweden's prisons and remand prisons in 2009. The subsequent report noted that Sweden had on previous occasions been urged to desist from holding people for extended periods on remand.

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