Germany allows convicted refugee to fly to Greece, then bars him from re-entry

EPA/PATRICK SEEGER via Naftemporiki

DW — A refugee who was fitted with an electronic ankle tag monitor following violent behaviour has been barred from Germany after leaving the country. Police had dropped an investigation into whether the man posed a threat.

Police said 35-year-old Hussein Z., a refugee from Syria, boarded a flight to Athens from Hamburg on October 11, a few days after telling police that he wanted to get his sick son from a hospital on the Turkey-Syria border.

Hussein’s ankle tag was being tracked by the German police’s central tracking agency, GÜL, in Bad Vilbel, Hesse. Officers reported him missing when his signal disappeared from their system — and then reappeared 2,800 kilometers away in Athens. It remains unclear whether GÜL was informed by the Bavarian police, who were overseeing his detention, of his plans to leave the country.

According to a statement by Bavarian police, the man had come to their attention during his stay in the town of Aschaffenburg because of “aggressive behavior and attacks” on others in the shelter where he was living, as well as after making “various threats.”

Police said the man was given a “long-term custodial sentence,” from which he was released on October 4. “As a result of the ensuing surveillance measures, the Syrian refugee showed clear signs of psychological stabilization, which were confirmed when he asked to join his family, his mother and sister, in Hamburg.” He then traveled to Athens on October 11. Police said authorities in Greece and Turkey were informed of his plans.

There is no law that prohibits people from boarding planes while wearing an electronic ankle tag. A spokesman for the Bavarian police confirmed to DW that there was no legal reason to prevent the man’s departure. As he explained, there was no evidence that the man was planning any kind of crime. The spokesman said ankle tags could be fitted without indication of “a concrete danger.”

According to Der Spiegel magazine, however, Germany’s federal prosecutor opened an investigation into Hussein in June after witnesses testified that he had had contact with rebels in Syria and was seen fighting in a video uncovered by the Bavarian police. But the investigation was dropped for lack of evidence. Bavarian police would not confirm any of this information. The spokesman said it was “correct” to describe him as a “potential threat with an Islamist background.”

A spokesman for Bavaria’s state Interior Ministry said Hussein’s refugee status had been “temporarily revoked.” He has been barred from re-entry into Germany and the Schengen Area.