Trial begins of Swedish woman who sabotaged deportation of migrant by refusing to sit down for take-off on plane taking convicted thug back to Afghanistan
- Elin Ersson, 21, on trial for breaking aviation law in district court in Gothenburg
- If found guilty, the student activist faces up to six months in jail and fines
- Staged a protest on a plane last July to stop the deportation of an Afghan man
- Ersson refused to take her seat and the the Afghan was let off the plane
- It was later revealed that 52-year-old Bismallah S. had served time for assault
The trial of a Swedish woman who blocked the deportation of an Afghan asylum-seeker by refusing to sit down on an airplane is being held today.
Elin Ersson, 21, is accused of breaking aviation law when she failed to comply with orders from Turkish Airways crew at Landvetter Airport in Gothenburg in July 2018.
She had purchased a ticket for the Istanbul flight with the intention of preventing the deportation of another Afghan man, however ended up stopping the expulsion of a 52-year-old convicted criminal.
Viral: Elin Ersson, 21, staged a protest on an airplane as it was about to leave Sweden for Turkey, refusing to sit down until a 52-year-old Afghan man due to be deported was allowed off
Bismallah S. had served time for assault, but Swedish police said his denied asylum application had not been related to his crimes.
Ersson’s livestreamed video recording of her protest, which sees her argue with disgruntled passengers and staff ordering her to take her seat, went viral and generated millions of views worldwide.
At one point in the video, a disgruntled fellow passenger tries to seize her phone, but she asks him: ‘What is more important, a life, or your time?’
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‘All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here. This is all perfectly legal and I have not committed a crime.’
However, prosecutors disagreed, and indicted her for breaking aviation laws in October last year.
The trial, which is expected to last just half-a-day, is being held in Gothenburg District Court, and if convicted, she faces up to six months in jail as well as fines.
Allegations: Ersson is accused of breaking aviation law when she failed to comply with orders from Turkish Airways crew at Landvetter Airport, and faces up to six months in jail if convicted
Still happy: The 21-year-old said that finding out that the 52-year-old was a convicted criminal did not change her opinion about stopping his deportation as she claims being sent to Afghanistan amounts to a ‘death sentence’
Ersson had initially planned on stopping the deportation of a 21-year-old Afghan man whose asylum application had also been rejected.
However, upon arrival at Landvetter Airport, she was told he had already been sent out of the country on another flight.
When she heard that 52-year-old Bismallah S. was due to be deported on an upcoming flight, she bought a ticket.
Her disruption of the flight severely delayed take-off and eventually saw her and the Afghan and his assigned security removed from the flight.
Ersson said afterwards that she had not been aware that the 52-year-old was a convicted criminal, however said she still felt her protest was justified, as going to Afghanistan amounted to a ‘death sentence’.
Bismallah S. was deported to Afghanistan a few weeks later.
Ersson’s lawyer has maintained that his client is innocent, saying the aviation act only applies to actions taken whilst the plane is in the air.
‘During the entire action she was prepared to follow the orders of the captain on board, and she left the plane as soon as the pilot decided that she should do so,’ the lawyer, Thomas Fridh, said at the time of indictment in October.
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