The criminals of the world can take solace in the fact that one country is ready to greet them with open arms, especially those fleeing a prison sentence.
In two landmark supreme court cases, Sweden has recently granted asylum to two convicted criminals facing prison in their respective home countries. Not despite them being criminals, but because they are criminals.
The first case is a 47-year old Lebanese citizen. He shot a man to death in 1999, which led to his arrest and conviction. The punishment was set to 14 years and 9 months in prison. But before the sentence was carried out, he managed to flee to Sweden later that year. His first application for asylum was denied and he was ordered to return to Lebanon.
Unfortunately, being denied asylum does not include forced deportation in Sweden; it merely means you are released and ordered to buy a ticket back home. Many denied asylum seekers choose not to obey and stay as illegals instead.
The Lebanese citizen did so until he was caught up in a 2011 legal tussle concerning tax fraud and illegal tobacco sales with another immigrant (the man was exonerated; his partner got 8 years in prison). Having now re-surfaced, he quickly re-filed for asylum on the grounds that the prison sentence in Lebanon was “cruel and inhumane”.
At first, the Swedish migration bureau denied this application. But after appealing to the superior migration court, the decision was reversed. The superior court writes (in translation): “There are grounds to believe that [the plaintiff], in the case of the execution of the criminal conviction placed upon him, runs the risk of inhumane or humiliating treatment.”
Thus there are grounds for granting regular criminals asylum under a special protection clause of the immigration law, formerly reserved for political dissidents threatened by torture and death by the dictators of their former countries.
In another case from just earlier this week, the Swedish superior court decided not to extradite a convicted cop killer to Russia.
The 40-year old Russian citizen is a known gangster with convictions for killing two cops and injuring one. He also has convictions for dealing automatic weapons and for belonging to an organized crime family (which is illegal in Russia), that resulted in a 23-year prison sentence.
As the man had been tried and found guilty by their legal system, the Russians requested the man be extradited to serve his sentence per international norm.
The Swedish authorities declined. It turns out the man had filed for, and been granted, asylum for “political persecution.”
The Russians appealed to the Swedish supreme court, which has now ruled that the Russian man is to retain his asylum status and may live the rest of his life as a free man in Sweden.
His crimes are duly noted in the supreme court case ruling, but are deemed not material to the case.
Both rulings are publicly available per the Swedish court system. The Lebanese man case number is UM 3428-12, the Russian man case number is Ö 9535-14.