Boy jailed over false passport

Hailing from war-torn Syria, the boy previously applied for refugee status in Greece but had been refused

A young man from Syria has been jailed after admitting to using forged documents in an attempt to enter Malta.

The boy, from the war-torn city of Homs, had previously applied for refugee status in Greece but had been refused and so had come to Malta, magistrate Nadine Lia was told by Inspector Lara Butters.

Prosecuting Inspector Lara Butters told the court that the police had no means of confirming his age, but that the accused was claiming to be 17. He had bought the document from a smuggler, he said, but did not give information about the smuggler to the police, she said.

The accused entered a guilty plea.

In submissions on punishment, defence lawyer Daniel Attard told the court that the youth had fled the fighting in Homs and had admitted to the charges at the earliest opportunity. “He admitted to possession of a false document in order to escape the horror there.”

But Inspector Butters pointed out that the accused had already been refused refugee status in other countries and argued that this was a “fishing expedition” to find an amenable jurisdiction. This was not fair and undermined the safety of the countries he would be calling at, she said.

Magistrate Lia noted that the accused had a difficult childhood as well as a clean criminal record. On the other hand, the prosecution had insisted that countries have to control entry and exit points for reasons of national security and so these charges could not be taken lightly.

The court found the youth guilty and condemned him to four months in prison.