Iraqi woman who faked father’s murder is stripped of payout

25-year-old secured residency in Finland after falsifying documents about 'sectarian killing' in Baghdad

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France
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A European court has quashed its own ruling after it emerged that an Iraqi woman helped to fake her father's death to win nearly €25,000 in compensation from her adopted home of Finland.

The woman, known only as N.A., successfully sued the authorities at the European Court of Human Rights in 2019 after falsely claiming that her father had been shot dead in Baghdad weeks after being deported by the Finnish authorities.

But her story swiftly unravelled after inquiries by authorities in Finland and Iraq revealed that her father – whose forged death certificate said he was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2017 - was apparently alive and well.

After confessing to faking a series of documents, the woman and her ex-husband were jailed for nearly two years in Finland in April for forgery, fraud and perjury. The fakery came to light after the ex-husband tipped off police, according to the ruling.

In light of the new information, the court on Thursday reversed its 2019 ruling which had ordered Finland to pay the woman €20,000 in compensation and €4,500 costs. It said that it was clear that the “applicant knowingly intended to deceive the court as to the core factual elements of her allegations in the complaint”.

The woman came to Finland with her father in 2015 and married an Iraqi man, with whom she had two daughters.

Following her father’s ‘death’, the woman, now 25, gave an emotional interview to Finnish national broadcaster Yle in which she spoke of her grief and her fears that she too would be returned to Iraq with her young children.

She cited witness accounts sent to Baghdad police that suggested a group of men travelling in a truck with no licence plates had opened fire on her father from inside the vehicle. A forged hospital death certificate gave his cause of death as three gunshot wounds to the head and body.

The woman claimed to have learnt of her father’s death from her grandfather. Her criminal trial heard that her ex-husband was a driving force in the scam but she went along with it, allowing her to remain in Finland.

“When I found out about his death, I started to shake and I didn’t know what to do. At first I thought that I wish I had also returned and died with my family,” she told Yle.

“How can I return with my girls when the situation is so dangerous? I’m not afraid for myself, but for the girls. They’re just children,” she told the broadcaster in 2018.

The court in Strasbourg, France, originally ruled that Finland had failed to consider her father’s right to life and concerns over torture when dealing with his claim.

It heard evidence that her father had been targeted by two previous assassination attempts. He had served in Saddam Hussein’s army but later joined a US logistics firm before working for the interior ministry, according to a summary of the case.

Updated: July 13, 2021, 2:55 PM