Takeaway owner admits using false identity as Kosovan refugee to obtain Irish passports

Albanian national was granted asylum after presenting himself as a Kosovan fleeing war, court told

The court heard that Emri Bardhoshi, who owns fast food restaurants in Collinstown and Mullingar, had voluntarily confessed he had been using a false identity to gardaí through a solicitor. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

The court heard that Emri Bardhoshi, who owns fast food restaurants in Collinstown and Mullingar, had voluntarily confessed he had been using a false identity to gardaí through a solicitor. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

 

A Co Westmeath takeaway owner has pleaded guilty to five charges of using a bogus identity as a Kosovan war refugee to falsely obtain Irish passports for himself and three of his four children.

Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court heard on Friday that Emri Bardhoshi (42), an Albanian national, was granted asylum after presenting himself as a Kosovan fleeing war in the Balkans when he arrived in Ireland in the back of a lorry in 2001.

In what is believed to be one of the first prosecutions of its type in the Republic, Bardhoshi pleaded guilty to a breach of the Irish naturalisation and citizenship Acts by providing false or misleading documents to obtain naturalisation as an Irish citizen.

Bardhoshi, a separated father of four, of Roseville, Mullingar, Road, Castlepollard, Co Westmeath also pleaded guilty to a breach of the Passport Act 2008 by using similar information to falsely obtain Irish passports for himself and his three Irish-born children aged four to seven years.

His oldest child, an eight-year-old boy, was born in Albania and holds an Albanian passport.

The court heard that Bardhoshi, who owns fast food restaurants in Collinstown and Mullingar, had voluntarily confessed he had been using a false identity to gardaí through a solicitor on October 25th, 2017.

However, counsel for the DPP, John Hayden, BL pointed out it was the same date that the defendant had been served an interim barring order by gardaí.

The court heard that gardaí­ had separately become aware that he had used a false identity to obtain an Irish passport as a result of an allegation of domestic abuse made against him by his Albanian-born wife, whom he married in 2009.

Asked was he aware that his ex-partner had “spilt the beans”, Bardhoshi replied: “I told my solicitor before all these things.”

Det Garda Derek Thompson of the Garda National Immigration Bureau said Bardhoshi had presented himself as Islihat Doli, a Kosovan, five years younger than his real age on his arrival in Ireland 19 years ago.

Det Garda Thompson told the court that the four passports had either been revoked or expired.

He said Bardhoshi had sought but was refused naturalisation on the basis of his marriage to a German woman in 2003 because he could not provide evidence of the marriage.

The court heard he reapplied for citizenship in 2010 and was granted it in 2014.

Det Garda Thompson said a decision on his current status was awaited from an independent committee overseeing his application to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

In evidence, Bardhoshi expressed regret for his actions and said he had contacted the Department of Justice to alert them about his false identity because he had suffered major liver problems in 2017 and he was concerned that medical records showed he was five years younger than his true age.

“My health was very bad. It was the biggest mistake I made and I decided I should stop now,” he explained.

His counsel, Deliah Flynn BL, described her client as a “very upstanding member of his community” who had made an exceptional contribution as an immigrant including recently raising €2,000 for the Regional Hospital Mullingar.

The court heard that Bardhoshi, who previously worked as a manager of an Abrakebabra outlet in Thurles, Co Tipperary, had no previous convictions.

Judge Keenan Johnson described the case as “a most unusual prosecution” which involved a human tragedy.

The judge said Bardhoshi had undermined the cornerstone of the immigration system which was based on integrity, honesty and trust.

He adjourned sentencing until a hearing of Longford Circuit Court on May 22nd.