Two countries tried to deport him; now he’s a suspect in Berlin attack

Federal prosecutor's office and the Federal Criminal Police Office ask for help with the reconnaissance to the attack on the Christmas market at the Berlin Memorial Church on December 19, 2016! On December 19, 2016, a saddle truck type Scania, along with trailers with a Polish license plate, arrived at the entrance of the Christmas market at the Gedächtniskirche am Breitscheidplatz. The vehicle captured numerous people on the Christmas market and came to a halt after 60-80 meters on the Budapest road. According to a testimony, a person was removed from the vehicle shortly thereafter, and has since been fleeting. The 24 year old Tunisian citizen Anis AMRI is urgently suspicious of this situation.

Two European countries tried to deport him. He served jail time in one of them.

But Anis Amri never got sent back to his home country of Tunisia.

Now Amri, 24, is a wanted suspect accused of plowing a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others.

Italy and Germany wanted to deport him. So why would Amri still have been in Europe in the first place?

Details are still emerging about Amri’s background. But already the case appears to be highlighting an issue that governments around the world face. Deporting someone — even a criminal convicted of violent offenses — is harder than it sounds.

It takes two

The bottom line: In order to deport someone, the person’s home country has to cooperate.

In Amri’s case, Italian and German officials both say their efforts to deport him ran into roadblocks when it came to getting the documents needed to send him back.

Italian authorities say Amri served four years of jail time for assault, arson and damaging state property at the country’s Lampedusa refugee center. They ordered his deportation, Italian state police spokesman Mario Viola said. But Tunisian authorities wouldn’t accept the request on the grounds of a lack of proper documentation, Viola said.

Amri was denied asylum in Germany but was not deported because he had no official papers, and his identity could not be determined, officials there said.

Tunisian officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Amri’s case.

‘A clear public safety threat’

Officials in other countries have faced similar predicaments.

In the United States, officials use the term “recalcitrant” to describe countries that won’t take back people the US authorities are trying to deport.

There are 23 countries US Immigration and Customs Enforcement describes as recalcitrant, including Afghanistan, Algeria, China, Cuba, Gambia, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

“There is a clear public safety threat posed to the United States by the failure of uncooperative or recalcitrant countries to accept the timely return of their nationals who have committed crimes in this country,” Daniel Ragsdale, the agency’s deputy director, testified earlier this year.

The issue has become a flashpoint for some Republican lawmakers, who’ve said the United States should fire back by denying visas to countries that refuse to take back their citizens.