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Antoine Zoghaib v. Sweden

Publisher Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights
Publication Date 29 June 1999
Citation / Document Symbol 41217/98
Cite as Antoine Zoghaib v. Sweden, 41217/98 , Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights, 29 June 1999, available at:,ECHR,3ae6b6a714.html [accessed 20 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.



Application no. 41217/98

by Antoine ZOGHAIB

against Sweden

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section) sitting on 29 June 1999 as a Chamber composed of

Mr J. Casadevall, President,

Mrs E. Palm,

Mr L. Ferrari Bravo,

Mr Gaukur Jörundsson,

Mr C. Bîrsan,

Mrs W. Thomassen,

Mr R. Maruste, Judges,

With Mr M. O'Boyle, Section Registrar;

Having regard to Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

Having regard to the application introduced on 18 March 1998 by Antoine Zoghaib against Sweden and registered on 14 May 1998 under file no. 41217/98;

Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 49 of the Rules of Court;

Having deliberated;

Decides as follows:


The applicant is a Lebanese national born in 1966. He is represented before the Court by Mr Lars-Åke Johansson, Norrtälje.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.

The applicant arrived in Sweden on 13 May 1989 and requested asylum. He stated, inter alia, the following. In September 1985 he joined the Lebanese Forces, effectively a Christian militia. He later became a bodyguard to Joseph Akiki, the Commander-in-chief of the militia. In 1986 power struggles broke out between various factions of the militia, including one led by Akiki. The dispute was won by a faction led by Samir Gea'Gea who then tried to track down Akiki and his supporters. The applicant found himself under fire on many occasions and was once shot in the leg. As from the beginning of 1987, he spent most of his time in hiding. However, he was captured by Gea'Gea's men in October 1988. During 47 days in detention, he was allegedly beaten and tortured. When released, he got to know that Akiki had been murdered. The applicant later managed to flee Lebanon. He claimed that he did not have any difficulties with the Lebanese State, but feared the Lebanese Forces who had already made several attempts on his life.  

By a decision of 15 June 1989 the National Immigration Board (Statens invandrarverk) granted the applicant a permanent residence permit in Sweden. Finding that the applicant could not be considered as a refugee, the Board nevertheless granted the permit on humanitarian grounds.

On 23 June 1994 the applicant was convicted by the District Court (tingsrätten) of Gothenburg for a narcotics offence of an aggravated nature involving 2.8 kilograms of cocaine. He was sentenced to six years' imprisonment and lifetime expulsion from Sweden. When deciding to expel the applicant, the court noted, inter alia, that he was unemployed and that his relatives lived in Lebanon. Also, the court had obtained the opinion of the Immigration Board according to which there were no impediments to expelling the applicant.

On 2 September 1994 the Court of Appeal (hovrätten) for Western Sweden upheld the District Court's judgment. It appears that the applicant made no appeal to the Supreme Court.

Later the applicant requested the Government to exercise its power under Chapter 7, Section 16 of the Aliens Act (Utlänningslagen, 1989:529) to annul the expulsion order. By a decision of 12 March 1998 the Government rejected the request.

On 28 April 1998 the applicant was released on probation and expelled from Sweden. However, as the applicant had obtained residence and work permits in Dubai, the applicant was expelled to that country and not to Lebanon. He experienced no difficulties in Dubai. However, he later returned to Lebanon on his own motion. Allegedly for fear of reprisals, he has not registered with the Lebanese authorities.


The applicant complains about his expulsion, claiming that he risks to be arrested and tortured in Lebanon. He invokes Articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Convention.


The application was introduced on 18 March 1998. On 15 April 1998 the applicant requested the Commission to secure a stay of his deportation.

On 24 April 1998 the Commission decided not to indicate to the respondent Government, pursuant to Rule 36 of the Commission's Rules of Procedure, the measure suggested by the applicant.

Following further correspondence, the application was registered on 14 May 1998.

On 1 November 1998, by operation of Article 5 § 2 of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention, the application fell to be examined by the Court in accordance with the provisions of that Protocol.


The applicant complains that his expulsion involved a violation of Articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Convention.

The Court notes firstly that the difficulties experienced by the applicant on account of his involvement in the Lebanese Forces occurred before he left Lebanon for Sweden more than ten years ago. It is thus difficult to assess whether he has any well-founded fear of ill‑treatment in Lebanon today. It is, however, not necessary to resolve this question, as the applicant was never expelled to Lebanon. Rather, as he had obtained residence and work permits in Dubai, he was expelled to that country. Apparently, he had no difficulties in Dubai. It is true that he later returned to Lebanon on his own motion. In these circumstances, however, the Swedish State cannot be held responsible for his return to Lebanon or any future ill-treatment in that country. Further, his voluntary repatriation would rather indicate that there is no substantial risk that he will be subjected to treatment contrary to Articles 3, 4 or 5 in Lebanon.

It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,


Michael O'Boyle, Registrar

Josep Casadevall, President

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