Court worried over high number of false passport cases

Magistrate Joe Mifsud says new facilities should be built for passport-related incarcerations if trend continues, as court jails another offender  

A "quarter to a third" of the prison population is made up of prisoners serving sentences for passport-related offences, Magistrate Joe Mifsud noted, as he jailed a Moroccan man for one such offence.

Approximately 250 people are currently serving sentences for false passport issues, said the magistrate, positing that new facilities would need to be built to accommodate such offenders if the trend continued.

The magistrate was presiding the arraignment of Azekrou Radwane, 27, from Casablanca.

Inspector Frankie Sammut explained that Radwane was arrested at the airport after trying to leave Malta for Brussels using a fake Italian travel document.

It emerged that the man had been living in Malta illegally since 2017, when his Moroccan passport expired. The expired passport was also found in his possession, said the inspector.

Radwane had originally come to Malta to study, it was explained.

The inspector said that the man would be sent back to Morocco after serving any jail term imposed.

Magistrate Mifsud observed the dire need for a European and International mechanism for dealing with such cases. He noted that a quarter to a third of the current prison population was currently made up of passport offenders.

The accused pleaded guilty to the charges. The court said it could not grant his wish to return home immediately as he had no valid travel documents. Court encouraged the prosecution to make efforts to renew his passport or obtain a travel doc from Morocco for him, whilst he is a prisoner in CCF.

The magistrate imposed the minimum sentence for the offences – that of 6 months in prison.

Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace was legal aid counsel.