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12 Feb, 2016 19:57

‘15yo’ boy who killed Swedish social worker is in fact an adult – migration agency

‘15yo’ boy who killed Swedish social worker is in fact an adult – migration agency

A Somali-born refugee charged with the murder of a Swedish social worker is not 15 years old, as previously believed, but is likely over 18, which means he could face trial in an adult court.

The new conclusion about the age of Youssaf Khaliif Nuur, who is accused of killing 22-year-old social worker Alexandra Mezher, is based on interviews a migration officer conducted with him after he had applied for residence and work permits, a spokesperson for Sweden’s migration agency said Thursday.

If an asylum seeker doesn’t possess any identity documents upon arrival or if there are doubts about a person’s age, the migration board officer has to determine a person’s age in an interview. The officer also informs the applicant of the possibility to undergo a medical assessment procedure.

"The applicant did not make it probable that he was under 18," migration agency spokesperson Johanna Mahlen told The Local, referring to the interview. However, Mahlen did not specify what exactly in the interview led to this reasoning.

“The decision is public, but the interview is not. It is a privacy issue,” Expressen quoted Linda Wiking, the prosecutor in the case, as saying.

“It means that he is criminally responsible and can be sentenced to jail,” Wiking said.

However, the Swedish migration agency says it has not ascertained the exact age of the suspect.

Based on the evidence, the agency requested the court to extend the detention of the suspect until the next hearing scheduled for February 25. The court backed the motion Thursday.

Nicklas Unger, the defendant’s lawyer, called the impact of the agency’s assessment “huge.”

“It is clear that it can have enormous consequences, both for the asylum case and concerning the criminal process,” he told the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper.

However, the decision of the migration agency is not final and awaits approval by the court, as the determination of the suspect’s age in such cases often proves to be a tricky issue and includes a medical examination of the suspect.

The suspect is at the moment in custody in a psychiatric unit at Rågården hospital, as the court ruled to investigate Nuur’s mental health, Expressen reports.

Mezher, a psychology graduate, was stabbed to death at a center housing unaccompanied young refugees in the Swedish city of Molndal on January 25.

Later it was revealed that the owners of the private-operated center and local authorizes had been warned of danger to staff in December 2014 by one of the workers. However, they didn’t take appropriate precautions, it has been reported.

The killing of Mezhner, who is of Lebanese origin, sparked outrage across Sweden and resulted in violent clashes and an anti-immigration rally in the capital, Stockholm.

Sweden is one of the top European destinations for asylum seekers and migrants. The country accepted over 160,000 refugees and migrants in 2015, which is the highest share per capita in the EU. However, in January, Sweden announced it would deport about 80,000 applicants whose bids for refugee status were rejected by the migration authorities.

READ MORE: Only 1% of Swedish police callouts over last 100 days involved refugees – report