Ghanaian Man Says Crimes Acceptable in his Culture

Errol Kiong, New Zealand Herald (Auckland), Sept. 20

A Ghanaian man appealing against deportation over fraud charges claimed during sentencing that his cultural heritage meant that committing theft and fraud was acceptable.

The Deportation Review Tribunal dismissed his appeal, but Charles Yeboah, 24, who was due to be deported on September 9, remains at large. An arrest warrant has been issued.

Yeboah, also known as Joe McCarthy, was to be deported after being convicted of seven counts of intent to defraud, three counts of obtaining by false pretences and one count of assault.

In his appeal to the tribunal, Yeboah cited safety concerns should he be returned to Ghana.

Yeboah, who was granted New Zealand residency in March 2000, committed the offences between September 2002 and May 2003. He had obtained driver’s licences in several different names to acquire $65,956 in money and goods from retailers and financial institutions.

Present law allows for permanent residents who commit serious offences to be deported, and about 30 are ejected each year.

Yeboah was sentenced last year in the Waitakere District Court to two years’ jail.

The sentencing judge said the offences were carefully planned.

“I do not accept that the law of your country where you come from would regard what you did is anything other than a crime.”

Yeboah appealed against deportation last November, saying his mother’s family in Ghana had made threats to his life after she died of a heart attack upon hearing of his arrest.

He also said he would have nowhere to go if he were returned, as his siblings and father were all New Zealand citizens.

The representative of the Immigration Minister, in seeking the deportation, said Yeboah’s youth meant he was able to “sustain changes in his life”. He was also unmarried and childless.

Chairwoman Robyn von Keisenberg, in the tribunal’s decision, said the level of offending was serious.

The tribunal was not satisfied with Yeboah’s argument that his deportation would be unjust or unduly harsh. It noted that the offending, particularly the assault where he attacked an ex-girlfriend, was serious.

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