‘80% were grown-ups’: Swedish dentist fired for exposing migrant ‘kids’ as adults talks to RT
The story of Bernt Herlitz, a dental hygienist from the Swedish island of Gotland, came under the spotlight in 2016 when he revealed an unpleasant truth. Herlitz was analyzing the teeth of “unaccompanied” minor migrants who started to arrive in the Scandinavian country as the worst refugee crisis since WWII struck Europe. It turned out that wisdom teeth of the ‘children’ were fully grown in 80 percent of cases, a sign clearly showing that Herlitz’ patients were far from being underage.
“If you have an X-ray you can easily see that the person is over or under 18 years old. About 80 percent were grown-ups,” he said, speaking to RT.
Herlitz shared his concerns with an immigration officer who advised him to file a report about his findings. Yet the reaction from his employers was not so bright – they fired him, arguing he'd violated medical confidentiality.
“I was fired because I followed the instruction that the woman from the immigration office gave me. I sent an email to the immigration office that I could confirm those people were over 18 years old,” he continued.
The dental hygienist then sued his employers and won damages. But the Region of Gotland appealed to the highest labor court in Stockholm and hired one of Sweden’s top-ranking lawyers “to crush” him, as he says on his website. On July 4 he learned that he lost his case and also admitted “economically bankrupted him and his family.” The dentist, who had worked in the sector for 10 years, was fined some 475,000 kroner ($54,000).
Fearing bankruptcy, 56-year-old Bernt, who is married with an eight-year-old daughter, called for help and in several days already raised more than a half of the total amount.
Bernt believes that he had done a right thing for exposing the migrants lying about their age. “I don't think they should lie to come to Sweden,” he explained, speaking to RT.
RT sent a request to Gotland regional authorities, asking them to clarify the situation. No response has so far been received.
The problem of adult refugees claiming to be “unaccompanied minors” is not new in Europe, which has been facing a large influx of migrants since 2015. A German government report leaked to media revealed in 2017 that some 43 percent of migrants in the country who claim to be children are actually adults. In Denmark such a number stands at 74 percent.
Some migrants provide false data on their age, seemingly in order to get more benefits from the welfare systems of the European countries. However, others claim to be ‘children’ in an apparent attempt to be tried as juveniles for alleged crimes. An Afghani immigrant, Hussein Khavari, accused of raping and murdering a 19-year-old German woman, turned out to be an adult. At the time of his arrest, Hussein told police he was 17 years old. However, after analysis of one of the suspect’s teeth from the upper jaw showed that the accused was about 26 years old, probably 30.
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