Judge criticizes German officials over radical's deportation

August 16, 2018 - 4:09 am

BERLIN (AP) — A judge is accusing German authorities of testing the limits of the law in the deportation to Tunisia of a suspected former aide to Osama bin Laden, whom courts have ordered returned to Germany.

The 42-year-old, identified only as Sami A. in line with German privacy rules and deemed a dangerous Islamic radical by local authorities, was deported July 13. A court had ruled the previous evening that he should remain in Germany until it receives guarantees that he won't face torture in Tunisia, but a fax informing authorities arrived only when he was already in the air.

Judges then ordered him brought back to Germany. On Wednesday, North Rhine-Westphalia state's top administrative court dismissed an appeal by the western city of Bochum against that decision.

That court's chief justice, Ricarda Brandts, told news agency dpa in comments published Thursday that "the limits of the state of law were clearly tested here."

Sami A. had lived for years with his wife and children in Bochum. Described as a former bodyguard to the al-Qaida chief, his long presence in Germany has been criticized by politicians and media as authorities seek to step up deportations.

Whether and when he will actually be returned to Germany remains unclear. He was freed by a Tunisian judge in late July but a Tunisian investigation continues.

Brandts said there had been "significant public pressure" to deport him, including from high-ranking politicians, and "this demand created expectations — expectations that this had to happen."

In separate comments to Thursday's edition of the Rheinische Post daily, the state government's interior minister criticized her court's decision.

While the courts' independence is important, "judges should always keep in mind that their decisions correspond with the population's sense of justice," Herbert Reul was quoted as saying. "I doubt whether that is the case with this decision."

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