Deportation of 91-year-old halted at last minute

The heavily criticised expulsion from Sweden of a 91-year-old Ukranian grandmother was stopped at the last minute today following an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Swedish Migration Board postponed the expulsion of Ganna Chyzhevska after the court in Strasbourg issued a two week "inhibition" order on the expulsion due to fears the 91-year-old's rights were being violated.

Chyzhevska, who has dementia and is almost blind, was due to board the 15:55 flight from Stockholm's Arlanda Airport to her homeland Ukraine. 

But in a taxi on her way to the airport, her family with her were informed by the authorities that she could turn back.

Andreas Lundberg from the Swedish Migration Board told the TT news agency of the expulsion;

"It is temporary, although it could become permanent." 

A number of protestors had gathered at Terminal 5 at Arlanda Airport. Several organisations and political parties were represented, including the the Swedish Red Cross, Swedish Church and the Centre Party.

Ingela Holmertz, head of the Swedish Red Cross, wrote in a press statement that it’s unreasonable and inhumane to force the 91-year-old woman back to Ukraine when she doesn’t have any relatives there.

She came to Sweden to stay with her daughter and grand daughter after her husband died, and has repeatedly applied for a residency permit.

Her application was finally rejected a few months ago and immigration authorities ruled last month she would be expelled.

The Migration Board’s medical doctor said Monday that there are no medical reasons to prevent Chyzhevska from being sent back to Ukraine.

Migration Minister Tobias Billström told the media on Tuesday afternoon that he saw no reason to change Sweden's deportation laws despite several members in the government alliance calling for the elderly to be allowed to stay.  

The woman's family, which came to Sweden two decades ago, has been fighting to keep her in the country.

"We have won time. That is what is important," granddaughter Anna Otto told the Aftonbladet daily's online edition.

Otto herself was at Arlanda earlier in the day trying to convince the airline to refuse to fly her grandmother to Ukraine, carrying medical certificates warning Chyzhevska would "most probably" enter a state of such confusion during the trip that she would risk dying, Aftonbladet reported.