After Ten Years, Illegal Migrant to Be Released From Prison

YERUSHALAYIM -
An African migrant pulling a cart loaded with vegetables in south Tel Aviv. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
An African migrant pulling a cart loaded with vegetables in south Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

A Be’er Sheva court has ordered the release of an illegal African migrant who has been in prison for a decade, because he refuses to leave Israel. The release was ordered on condition that the Immigration Authority work out a deal with the worker to leave Israel “in the near future.”

The plight of the worker was highlighted by Haaretz several weeks ago, and resulted in a public clamor over the detention of the worker. The court said that the long jail term was “unfair,” and ordered him released within two weeks. The court did not specify what should be done if the worker still refuses to return to his native Ivory Coast.

The Immigration Authority opposed the migrant’s release, and the state is considering appealing to the High Court on the matter. At his hearing, the migrant expressed willingness to leave Israel, and it was on that basis that the court ordered his release. The government said in its counter-argument that the migrant had in the past agreed to leave Israel, but had reneged.

The migrant entered Israel in 2006 on a tourist visa, on a Ghanaian passport. He was arrested two months later, after “missing” his flight back home. He attempted to claim refugee status, saying that his family had been murdered by criminal gangs, and that his life was in danger as well. The state has argued that releasing him from prison would show other illegals that stubbornness and refusal to leave Israel pays off in the end.