Relief after woman stranded in Nairobi fingerprinted

Jul 10, 2009 04:30 AM

Staff Reporter

A Toronto woman facing jail in Kenya says she feels relieved after Canadian officials finally took her fingerprints to help settle her identity.

"I feel a lot better," Suaad Hagi Mohamud said yesterday by phone from Nairobi, where she has been stranded for seven weeks, eight days of that time in jail. "I really want to come back home."

Canadian consular officials, who for six weeks refused to have anything to do with the woman, took her prints and asked her such questions as where she lives, who her boss is at the ATS courier plant in Etobicoke and who is looking after her 12-year-old son in Toronto.

But they did not indicate when they might match her prints with those on her original Somali refugee application made 10 years ago.

"They said they would get back to me," she said.

Mohamud, 31, was about to leave Kenya on May 17 after a short visit when airport officials stopped her for not looking like her Canadian passport photo – a common ruse for soliciting a bribe, she says.

The Kenyans jailed her. She was released eight days later on $2,500 (U.S.) bail, pending trial.

On May 21, the Kenyans notified the Canadian high commission of the arrest.

A week later, a Canadian consular official wrote Kenyan immigration to say "conclusive investigations" confirm the arrested woman was an imposter. The official sent them the voided passport to help with their prosecution.

For weeks, Mohamud – or the woman posing as Mohamud – begged the Canadians to take her fingerprints but they refused to return her calls.

"That’s all we’re asking," family spokesperson and Toronto radio host Kawnayn Hussein said on hearing the prints had been taken.

"It’s somehow encouraging for us," said Mohamed Dalmar of Ottawa’s Catholic Settlement Centre, who has worked for three years on a similar case.

 http://www.thestar.com/news/torontoGTA

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