Crime

I’m a fraudster – get me out of here!

  • Long wait: Radu Asavei, 32, is stuck in Bermuda awaiting his deportation (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)
  • Radu Asavei, 32, is still stuck in Bermuda after prison sentence had ended and his  deportation back to Romania was delayed for 3½ months (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

A Romanian man jailed for one year for credit card fraud said yesterday he was still stuck in Bermuda despite being released from prison and scheduled for deportation.

Radu Asavei, 32, who was in Westgate from August 26 last year, was due to be sent home in April but has been stranded because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “I’m going crazy — I feel like I want to climb on a high building and try to kill myself if I can’t get home.

“They tell me I have to stay here for an indefinite period of time — that could be ages.

“Who knows when this virus is going to stop?”

Mr Asavei added that he was held in custody even after the airport had opened because the Department of Immigration did not want to send a staff member to escort him back to Romania.

He added that, despite his release from prison on August 10, he had no idea when he could go home.

Mr Asavei, who lived in Britain, was charged in March last year with conspiracy to remove stolen money from Bermuda along with Tiberiu Gavrila, 45, also a Romanian, and Eldon Robinson, 54, from St George’s.

The two Romanians were also charged with conspiracy to steal $4,340 from HSBC and the possession of at least 15 fake credit cards.

Both pleaded guilty to the offences in January this year and were sentenced to a year in prison with time in custody taken into account.

They expected to be deported on April 26.

Mr Robinson pleaded not guilty to the offence and his case was dismissed on July 15 this year.

Mr Asavei said he was supposed to serve only eight months of the sentence, but added that he could not go anywhere because the airport was closed.

He expected to leave when the airport opened on July 1, but the immigration department said they would not send an escort with him.

Mr Asavei explained: “They told me ‘we have clearance to transit from both countries — from the US to the UK — however, due to the coronavirus we refuse to come with you’ because apparently an officer has to be with me in the airplane.”

He added that officials had told him they would not take him home until the Covid-19 infection rate had fallen in Europe.

But Mr Asavei said: “How can you predict when the virus is going to stop?

“They told me ‘you could be here for a year, five years — as long as we’re comfortable with’.”

He added: “They kept me in jail for 3½ months over my time.”

Mr Asavei said that he was transferred to the Prison Farm in St George’s after his official sentence expired.

But he went on a ten-day hunger strike because he wanted to see a magistrate about being released from prison.

Mr Asavei said that he was released on August 10 after a court hearing and was told that he would be sent home in two weeks.

But Mr Asavei said: “Those two weeks have passed already and when I went to the office to ask, they basically threw me out.”

Ms Asavei said that he was not the only foreigner in the same position.

He explained that Mr Gavrila was supposed to be released alongside him but was still stuck in prison because he did not have anywhere else to stay.

He added that two men, Vladimir Vasilev and Nicola Aleksandrov, were supposed to be deported to their native Bulgaria on August 10 but had just left the island last week.

Mr Asavei said that he was staying with a friend that he met while he was on bail before his trial. He added that he did not have any money and was unable to work.

A spokeswoman for the national security ministry said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it significant challenges around overseas travel.

“Scheduled commercial service recommenced on 2 July and direct service to the UK later that month.

“Mr Asavei was kept abreast of the terms regarding his imprisonment and the Department of Corrections, in consultation with the Department of Immigration, ensured he understood the process for deportation.

“It is important to note that Mr Asavei could only be deported to his country of origin and as such transiting the UK or any other country to achieve this presents additional challenges.

“It is also important to note that there is legislative authority by which an individual in these circumstances can remain in custody longer than their earliest release date.”

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