Iraqi sent to detention center in Poland before deportation

AP News
Posted: May 17, 2017 12:59 PM
Iraqi sent to detention center in Poland before deportation

LODZ, Poland (AP) — An Iraqi citizen who was arrested in Poland last summer on suspicion of possessing explosives is being transferred to a closed detention center for foreigners in Poland as he awaits deportation after his case was discontinued this week.

The case has sparked concern from human rights activists, who worry that a lack of transparency makes it hard to know if due process is been being followed in the 10-month case. They are also concerned that he continues to be treated as a potential terrorist threat even though the investigation has been closed.

Polish authorities ended their investigation into Sinan Al-Haboubi, 48, due to a lack of evidence, freeing him from a high-security prison Monday. But border guards immediately took him into custody on grounds he lacks permission to be in Poland legally.

Al-Haboubi, who was granted asylum in Switzerland, was arrested in the central Polish city of Lodz on July 21 for possessing trace amounts of explosives found on the outside of his luggage. The arrest came amid heightened security ahead of a visit to Poland by the pope.

Al-Haboubi's lawyer and family say he has no extremist ties and is the victim of a misunderstanding. They say he was traveling in Poland because he wanted to open a pizzeria in the country. They say they couldn't explain the presence of explosives on his luggage, but suspect it might have landed there accidentally.

A Lodz court ruled Wednesday he can be held for up to 90 days in a detention center for foreigners near Warsaw as he awaits deportation, his lawyer Lukasz Banatkiewicz said.

After the proceedings, masked border guards escorted Al-Haboubi out in handcuffs and a hood to hide his face.

Amnesty International said it is "deeply concerned about the deportation order."

The group told The Associated Press in an email that Polish officials need to explain what evidence they have that Al-Haboubi amounted to a security threat.

Banatkiewicz said his client has lost his right to asylum in Switzerland due to his long absence from that country, and will likely have to go to Iraq, a country he and his family fled in the 1970s in opposition to Saddam Hussein.