The trial of a Swede indicted for human smuggling and fraud has begun in Ethiopia. The woman is also wanted in Sweden for social insurance fraud.
The legal process is expected to take six months and the woman risks a long prison sentence.
“It could be 15 to 25 years in prison,” prosecutor Jakob Holmberg told news agency TT. “The trial started yesterday and is being monitored by a person from the Swedish Ministry of Justice.”
The woman has been sought and was arrested in absentia since 2007. Currently, a Swedish police investigation is under way against her because she is suspected of having collected hundreds of thousands of kronor from the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) in absentia.
For several years, she bluffed her way into hundreds of thousands of kronor in the form of cars, hotel nights and cash in Sweden. According to the prosecution, she stole the identities of several people. She also coerced a woman to take out substantial loans and then swindled her out of the money.
The woman was sentenced to probation for aggravated fraud at Gothenburg district court in 2005. In addition, Stockholm district court sentenced her to two and a half years in prison for the same offense the following year.
However, before the trial was completed, she managed to flee the country, according to the prosecution. She appealed to the Court of Appeal, which overturned the ruling on the basis of a formal error.
At the end of June, she was arrested in Ethiopia on suspicion of human smuggling and fraud. She is currently in custody in an Ethiopian prison.
“We cannot do much more,” said Holmberg. “We have requested her extradition. However, the Ethiopians want to prosecute her for the crimes she committed there.”