October 05, 2019
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By Irish Independent News
A 39-year-old Dundalk resident who made an application for Irish citizenship with a fake Somali passport, has appeared before the district court.
Hasan Macow, Carroll Village, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges of making a false declaration for the purpose of obtaining Irish citizenship and using a false instrument on 12 December, 2016.
At the end of a trial last Tuesday he was convicted by Judge Eirinn McKiernan and fined €300 for the latter offence. The other charge was taken into consideration.
Evidence was given he paid $300 by Western Union to a friend in Somalia for a passport which was subsequently sent to him.
Garda Justin O’Keefe who investigated the matter said the passport cover was genuine but the pages inside were fake.
In an interview which he attended voluntarily, the accused said he believed the passport was true.
Macow wanted to apologise to the Irish State, Gda O’Keefe said. He had since obtained a genuine passport.
The court heard the correct way to go about getting a passport outside Somalia, which the defendant ultimately did, was to travel to the nearest Somali embassy, in his case Brussels. The cost was $150.
Gda O’Keefe told counsel that details on both passports were exactly the same, only the place of issue was different.
The defendant left war-torn Somali as an asylum seeker. He didn’t have a passport or documentation when he came here in 2011.
He had a visa to live and work in Ireland, having been granted Stamp 4 permission.
The officer accepted there was a genuine effort in the defendant’s first approach to get a passport, though he did pay double the price.
Counsel for the accused submitted this (case) came down to intent.
Her client had no intention to submit a fake document and defraud the government.
‘How can you say that?’ Judge McKiernan asked.
The barrister replied Macow didn’t know how to get a passport. He never had one before and thought the procedure was to contact a friend.
‘How could he think that?’ said the judge.
‘He didn’t believe it was illegal. There is no evidence of intent to defraud.’
However, Judge McKiernan remarked the defendant went to a friend to get a passport, instead of following official procedures. It was as simple as that.
‘The fact is he did obtain a false instrument and used it. I don’t accept he believed it was the correct procedure.’
The court was told Hasan Macow has no previous convictions.
He has been working on-and-off here, and has potential employment with Dublin Bus.
The judge said this was a very serious matter, and she had no option but to convict, and would do so by way of a fine because the defendant had regularised his situation.
Bail in the event of an appeal was set at a personal bond of €300 with an independent surety of €300 or cash in lieu.
Legal aid was granted.