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36° Nicosia,
25 August, 2019
 
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Passport holder vindicated after months in jail

Larnaca court says French man was arrested on an unwarranted suspicion over his passport photo

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A French citizen who spent four months in jail awating trial after being accused of using a fake passport was vindicated on Monday, after a judge said a reasonable suspicion against him was not warranted.

The judge presiding over a suspected passport fraud case at Larnaca District Court, heard Monday that police filed charges against a French national, who was arrested earlier this year at the town’s airport after an officer suspected forged documents.

According to Philenews, the man had traveled to Cyprus and presented his passport to Immigration Control, telling a customs officer he was planning to work as an electrician or at a restaurant and that he would stay at a hotel in Ayia Napa.

But the immigration officer, according to the source, told the traveler that his face did not match the man depicted in the photo in the passport’s bio page.

A judgment was made without methodical inspection based on training, following a gut feeling that the defendant was a different person than the one depicted in his passport bio page

“It’s my document,” the man replied.

After further inspections were carried out by police experts, they had determined that the passport was authentic but the customs officer became suspicious that the document was obtained from French authorities via illegal or unlawful means.

“In this case, judging based on testimony that was presented in a subjective and incontrovertible manner, what I have before me is testimony from a police officer who said there were visible differences between the face of the defendant and the photograph inside his passport,” the female judge said.

She added that it turned out the customs officer made a judgment with the naked eye, without further methodical inspection based on training seminars but rather on a gut feeling that the defendant was a different person than the one depicted in the passport photo.

“But I note here that the police officer has not given any testimony that would prove the defendant was in fact someone else,” the judge added.

The court also heard that Cyprus Police never asked a photographer to take a profile photo and send it to Interpol-Paris, thus failing to request assistance from French authorities to clarify whether the individual depicted in the passport photo in question was the same as the traveler who sought admission into the Republic of Cyprus.

Correspondence between the Nicosia-Interpol and French officers included two copies, one showing a copy of the suspect’s passport bio page and another showing the bio page from French archives. Both documents were submitted in court as evidence.

“It was a match,” the judge said before dismissing the case.

The defendant reportedly was incarcerated for four months awaiting trial on document forgery charges.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  France  |  Larnaca  |  passport  |  customs  |  prison  |  arrest  |  court  |  Interpol  |  forgery  |  document fraud

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