Tonga Immigration Department. Photo/Kalino Lātū

A Sri Lankan man who tried to board a flight from Tonga to New Zealand using a forged French passport is facing deportation.

However, the Supreme Court said it would  not make him serve the two year prison sentence originally imposed on him, but which was suspended.

On May 10 2018 the accused, Vaseeth Samsudeen, was in Tonga and two days later tried to leave, on  both occasions using a fraudulent document.

On April 17 this year he was convicted of two counts of knowingly dealing with a forged document and was sentenced to two years in prison. This was suspended on condition that he left the kingdom within two months. He was told he could ask the court for an extension of time if there were exceptional circumstances.

He failed to leave Tonga and therefore appeared before the court for sentencing.

Lord Chief Justice Whitten said Samsudeen had been unable to obtain a visa either for his final destination or any transiting country.

The prosecution wanted the judge to make Mr Samsudeen serve his full sentence. Mr Justice Whitten said Samsudeen’s supporters were still trying to raise funds for a ticket and to obtain a visa.

Samsudeen said he did not want to return to Sri Lanka  because he feared being harmed there.

Additional enquiries were made at the judge’s order about other options, including contacting the UNHCR about his case for asylum.

Judge Whitten ordered that the matter be referred to the Principal Immigration Officer to take whatever steps were necessary to remove Mr Samsudeen from Tonga.

The main points

  • A Sri Lankan man who tried to board a flight from Tonga to New Zealand using a forged French passport is facing deportation.
  • However, the Supreme Court said it would  not make him serve the two year prison sentence originally imposed on him, but which was suspended.

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