Man to be extradited to face human trafficking charges in Hungary

The man had been living in Malta for six months, before he was arrested in Dingli

Anti-terrorism police arrested the Syrian national on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant
Anti-terrorism police arrested the Syrian national on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant

A court in Malta has ordered the extradition to Hungary of a Syrian national suspected of human trafficking, on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant.

Loiai Aljelda, 48, had been living in Malta for six months when he was arrested at his workplace in Dingli in May.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech had heard how the man’s arrest had come about as a result of investigations by the police anti-terrorism unit after an alert went up on the Schengen Information System on 16 January.

He is wanted to face charges of human trafficking as a result of the smuggling of Moroccan, Afghan, Palestinian, Syrian and Somali migrants overland from Hungary into Austria in a number of cars.

A European Arrest Warrant had been issued by a District Court in Gyor, Hungary, in December 2019, for the man to face prosecution for alleged human trafficking as well as his alleged involvement in immigration and residence permit offences. The police said the man had been arrested in Austria over similar charges and had been sentenced to three years in prison.

Aljelda confirmed that he was the same person wanted by the authorities in Hungary, but had contested the extradition, claiming that he had already been punished in Austria for the same facts.

The court however noted that the facts for which the Viennese Court convicted Aljelda were “altogether different from the facts of the illicit activity for which his return to Hungary is being requested.”

In her judgment, the magistrate made extensive reference to recent case law, both local and at European level.

Aljelda had argued his case on fair trial grounds, but the court dismissed this argument, pointing out that as a court of committal, its scope was limited to establishing the identity of the person arrested, whether the offence specified in the warrant is an extraditable offence and whether there exist any bars to extradition as are listed in the law.

The prosecution was led by Superintendent George Cremona and Inspector Omar Zammit. Lawyers George Camilleri and Kaylie Bonett represented the Office of the Attorney General.

Ramon Bonett Sladden was defence counsel. 

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