A family of Iraqi asylum-seekers were caught entering Germany by private jet last week, it has emerged.
The family, who are believed to be from the Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq, arrived at Munich airport in a chartered private plane from Istanbul last Friday.
A couple named only as 49-year-old Shwana Q and his 44-year-old wife Basoz Q were travelling with their two children aged 12 and 7.
They were carrying forged diplomatic passports from the Caribbean island nation of St Kitts and Nevis and claimed they were on their way to the nearby island of Dominica.
They told passport officers they wanted to spend one night in Munich while they waited for a change of aircraft.
But the officials became suspicious when none of the family could speak English or French — the two languages generally spoken by diplomats. On closer examination their diplomatic passport cards proved to be forgeries.
When questioned, Shwana Q attempted to communicated using hand gestures. His 12-year-old son was able to explain to police that the family was on the run.
They had fled northern Iraq to escape Basoz Q’s family, who were trying to force her and her seven-year-old daughter to undergo female circumcision.
The practice, in which a woman's genitals are deliberately cut or disfigured, is outlawed in the UK and most European countries, but it is still practised in northern Iraq, particularly in the Kurdish-controlled provinces of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.
Women and girls forced to undergo the procedure can sustain lifelong physical, sexual and psychological trauma.
The family sold a restaurant they owned in northern Iraq for around £55,000 and used the money to pay traffickers to charter a private plane from Istanbul.
It is believed they planned to go into hiding in Germany after entering with the forged diplomatic passports.
They may have believed they had little chance of asylum as the Kurdish-controlled area of Iraq is currently relatively stable.
German police sent them to a processing centre for migrants, where their asylum claim will now be decided.
An investigation has been opened against them for entering the country illegally and using forged documents.
“It was a very unusual case. But officers were very alert and uncovered the matter with excellent police instinct,” Karl-Heinz Blümel, the head of the German federal police said.