In 2003, Eritrean man Tesfaldet Tesloy arrived in Sweden to start a new life with his brother, who had lived in the country for some 20 years. In 2006 he was informed that his application for permanent residence was rejected and that by law he would be scheduled for deportation.
Attempts to deport Tesloy back to Eritrea were met with resistance from his home country who stated clearly that they did not want him back. Swedish law stipulates that such illegal immigrants cannot be rightfully deported if there is refusal by their nation of origin, something which Swedish officials claim is an ongoing problem which they can do little about. Other nations such as Iran and Cuba also refuse repatriation, which leaves the individual in a legal wilderness.
Lacking official identification required to work legally in the country, Tesloy was facing a life in limbo until he bought a lottery scratch card, Nehanda Radio reports. On Saturday night Tesloy appeared live on national television to collect his prize, a tax-free windfall of EUR 118,000, or 1,118,000 Swedish Kroner.
While Tesloy does not have the necessary documentation to work, a ‘personnumer’ or Swedish identity number, he has managed to open a bank account in his name, thereby meeting the criteria for receiving the winnings as laid down by Svenska Spel, the county’s gaming authority which oversees the scratch card lottery Triss.
Stockholm police were consulted by the television and lottery officials to ascertain if it was legal to proceed with the prize presentation, who gave the go ahead, claiming the National Lottery had deemed the win entirely legal. Officials added that the difficulties in attempting to send Tesloy back to Eritrea, where they felt nobody cared about him, would likely see little chance of changes to the current situation.
Tesloy said that he would now be able to live out his dreams of becoming a licensed physical therapist.