Man faces deportation on skin-coloured tattoo

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By Cath Clarke

Business reporter, BBC Radio 4

If in doubt, it helps to have an airbrushed cover photo. These were the reasons given by the Dutch judge in dismissing the deportation appeal of Owen Smith, the Dutchman known as Oli the Chinky Dink. It was all about the tattoo on his leg. The prosecutor in The Hague had argued that Oli the Chinky Dink was a terrorist, and an illegal immigrant. One the appeal court has changed his mind about that, and moved the hearing to September next year. His wife, a grandmother who had moved to The Netherlands some years before, sat in court and was emotional about the whole situation. Mr Smith and his wife had hoped the next time they had to face the sort of proceedings they faced today, they would have a bit more money. The couple are originally from Liverpool. Mr Smith has a long criminal record There was a time when this case could have ended up going much higher. In March 2006, when Oli was detained, a criminal tribunal in The Hague announced it was sending him to prison. He had used a forged identity document and was in possession of a shotgun. The aim was to send Mr Smith to prison, to stop him from committing further offences, but that idea was put on hold by a justice minister who was terrified about the political fallout of even a first stage of deportation. We were deported because we had no money, we had nothing. No money to pay our lawyers

Owen Smith The pair were then quickly deported to Nigeria and met in Nnewi, a town with a crossroad known to house pirate radio stations. Oli the Chinky Dink worked as a cleaner, and for a while it seemed like a happy homecoming. But that was before the police started circling. They soon called his wife and put a pistol to her head, and kept calling her for the next month. They feared Oli was involved in a motorcycle gang that was transporting weapons to Cameroon. The pair were handed over to immigration authorities, where they were given a ticket home and told they had no right to fight deportation because they could not afford to pay the 2,000 euros legal fees for their case. “I would love to stay, I’m a Dutch citizen,” Ms Thompson said. “If I have another child or a house of my own, I can pay those fees, but we are deported because we had no money, we had nothing. No money to pay our lawyers.” Oli’s verdict seemed straightforward. “I didn’t even have the money to go on the internet,” he said, “to see how many people supported me in this case.” The prosecution lost its case after handing Oli the Swiss identity card Ms Thompson pointed out that there was no way she could have got the gun: it was a fake. And the knock on the door after their deportation from Nigeria was caused by one of the drug gang members calling for money. Not being on the ground in the village where she raised their sons was a major setback for her, she said. Mr Smith has a long criminal record. In 1993, he was caught handling stolen goods and ended up in prison for 14 months. A court in The Hague convicted him of the attempted murder of a police officer, and he served 14 months of a 25-year sentence. When they heard that he had applied for Dutch nationality, they thought he was almost assured of staying, because his birthplace was Nigeria. Instead, the prosecutors brought his residency applications to a halt, and decided he should be deported. He left Nigeria and went to live in Holland seven years ago. Now, he is back on the street. Ms Thompson said she and her husband were going to take their case to the European court of human rights, because they believed Dutch law was wrong to deport them. After the verdict, she said: “It wasn’t because of the number of people in the country, this decision that was made, it was because of the paperwork.”

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