On benefits in Birmingham, the African war criminal we can't kick out: Rent of 'murderer' staying on human rights grounds is being funded by taxpayer
00:24 GMT, 23 March 2013
10:46 GMT, 23 March 2013
Benefiting from Britain: Ex-Sudanese Janjaweed fighter Mohamed Issa Salim at home in Birmingham
A war criminal who took part in attacks in which countless civilians were killed is living rent-free at taxpayers’ expense in a large house in the West Midlands.
Mohamed Salim, 27, claimed he was in a militia that ‘wiped out entire villages’ in his native Sudan.
But despite being found guilty of crimes against humanity last year, he was allowed to stay in Britain indefinitely under human rights law because sending him home might put his life in danger.
The former fighter in the Janjaweed militia, which killed around 300,000 people during the war in Darfur, is living off benefits in a semi-detached house surrounded by family homes on a tree-lined street in Handsworth, Birmingham.
He is given 160 a month of taxpayers’ money and spends his days watching football in nearby bars.
Despite claiming that he shot so many people dead in Darfur that he lost count, he is under minimal supervision and does not have to report to the police.
Salim voluntarily gave anonymous media interviews after arriving in Britain in 2006, boasting about burning and looting 30 villages where men, women and children were killed.
He said at the time: ‘Whenever we go into a village and find resistance we kill everyone. Sometimes they said “wipe out an entire village”. And we shoot to kill. Most were civilians.
'Most were women. Innocent people running out and being killed, including children. There are many rapes.’
Last year the Mail told how a court ruled he could not be kicked out of Britain, despite his detailed ‘confession’, because his life could be at risk if he returned to Sudan. He later denied the claims he made in the interviews.
A judge said that because he had criticised his commanders and revealed embarrassing political information about the conflict in the interviews with BBC Newsnight and The Times, they may try to kill him.
Although the media had kept his identity secret, the judge said the Sudanese community in Britain knew it was him, which put his life at risk.
But it can now be reported that the National Asylum Support Service, which is part of the UK Border Agency, is paying his benefits and rent.
Speaking outside the six-bedroom house, which he shares, Salim said: ‘I came here because I listened to friends who said it was good to live her and claim asylum here. I don’t pay to live in this house.’ The terms of his asylum mean he is unable to work, but he attends college, where he learns English for free.
The genocide has spread throughout Darfur, with innocent civilians being attacked as Janjaweeds destroy whole communities
One of his male housemates, Jenny
Dakosta, 37, an asylum seeker from Congo, told the Mail: ‘He is my
friend, we live together. He is a very good guy, perfect.’
Dakosta said Salim spent most of his time in bars watching football,
adding: ‘Every day, Monday to Sunday he is there, when it is finished he
‘He goes to
college and to report to the immigration office. He used to report every
week, but they changed it to every two months, which is good for him.
We don’t rent the house. The immigration rent the house. They give you
place to sleep and each person 36 every week.’
the conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, Janjaweed forces attacked dozens
of non-Arab tribes in a burning and killing spree that is now regarded
as ethnic cleansing.
more than two years as a paid fighter, Salim deserted and came to the UK
because he was told it was easy to be given asylum here. He arrived in
2006 and claimed asylum but his case was not decided until last year.
Refugees from Darfur are persecuted by the Janjaweed, which Salim once claimed to be a part of
An immigration judge granted him asylum and ruled his human rights to life and protection against torture would be infringed if he returned.
Judge CJ Lloyd said she thought it was ‘fairer’ to examine the evidence he gave to the tribunal in person, in which he changed the story he had given in interviews and claimed he had ‘never killed anyone in his life but was careful to shoot in the air’.
She also said he would be at risk from the Sudanese government if sent back because his name would be known.
The Home Office appealed and in an Upper Tribunal ruling in October, Judge Hanson ruled that Salim did join in attacks against civilians and had ‘criminal responsibility’.
He overturned the decision to grant asylum on the grounds the man was a war criminal.
But he upheld the human rights ruling which found Salim was at risk if returned to Sudan – as a result of the interviews he gave.
Salim’s right to stay in Britain is being challenged by the Home Office, whose lawyers have argued the Geneva Convention allows for war criminals to be refused asylum.