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Illegal marriage trick leaves woman hitched

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Illegal marriage trick leaves woman hitched
Never actually happened. Photo: DPA
12:29 CEST+02:00
A German woman who was tricked into an illegal marriage is fighting a tangle of bureaucracy to try to get it undone – but a court said if she was never properly married, she cannot get divorced.

The 31-year-old woman, identified in the German media only as Anna K., had contacted a marriage broker in 2008 looking for a partner – and foolishly gave the agent copies of her passport and birth certificate.

A week later the matchmaker set up Anna K. on a date with a 20-year-old Indian man who was working as a waiter in Munich, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.

But Anna K., who works as a cleaner, said she was not interested. “Too lanky,” she told the paper.

Several weeks later, to her horror, she received a marriage certificate from the Banja Luka civil register office in Bosnia Herzegovinia, along with a letter congratulating her on her marriage.

She has since been working with a lawyer to try to get the marriage dissolved. Her work timesheet proves that at the time she was married, she wasn’t in Bosnia – she was cleaning at a nursing home in Bavaria.

And a handwriting expert from the Bavarian State Criminal Office said the signature on the marriage license was “most likely fake”, the paper said.

The Indian man, named by the paper as Kulwinder S., needed a residence permit in Germany. He said he had been married in, “Banja Luka, where different rules apply.”

This would seem to be correct – in Bosnia a couple can be married at the register office without them both being there, the paper said. Reason being that if one is critically in hospital, for example, they can marry before dying as long as they sign the necessary papers.

And although in this case, it seems neither of them were actually present, with Kulwinder S. sending his notarized agreement from India, and Anna K., according to her timesheet, being at work in Germany. Investigators have not been able to determine who impersonated Anna to register the marriage in Banja Luka.

A Munich family court has so far refused to annul the marriage, the paper said, because the Bosnian marriage certificate is authentic, whether or not the signature is forged.

And the court has so far refused to grant a divorce, saying that a couple that was never legally married in the first place cannot be legally divorced.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung said the Munich public prosecutor was investigating Kulwinder S., who is suspected of violating immigration laws by paying for a fake marriage in an effort to obtain a residency permit. He denies the allegations.

The next court date has been set for the end of the month when Munich’s district court hears Anna K.’s appeal.

In the meantime, Anna K. will have to wait to marry the man she really loves, with whom she has a child.

The Local/sh

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