Stowaway trying to leave Malta jailed for seven months

A Sudanese migrant who hid on a ship attempting to leave Malta has been jailed for seven months 

An unsuccessful stowaway who hid on a ship leaving Malta has been jailed for seven months. 

Sudanese migrant Yusuf Yahya Mustafa, 22, was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Victor Axiaq by Inspector Hubert Gerada, accused of failing to provide his details to the Principal Immigration Officer and clandestinely boarding a merchant shipping vessel at Marsa.

Mustafa had been arrested by the police on 14 April after being detected by the ship’s crew on the bridge.

He had originally arrived in Malta in June 2021 and was living in the community after his release from detention, inspector Gerada said. “He chose to attempt to escape Malta to find a better future,” added the inspector.

Lawyer Martin Fenech appointed legal aid to the accused and informed the court that the accused would be pleading guilty to the charges.

The court ensured that the accused was aware of the consequences of a guilty plea.

In his submissions on punishment, Fenech argued the accused was not a criminal and had a clean criminal record. “He wanted a better life. He lacked criminal intent,” said the lawyer, asking the court to consider imposing a punishment below the maximum.

The court asked whether the accused had cooperated with the police. He had said the police inspector. “He admitted immediately and said it had been a mistake.” The magistrate pointed out that an admission did not, in itself, constitute cooperation with the police investigation.

The inspector added that Mustafa told the police that he had planned to sneak onboard a departing vessel together with another man, who however had changed his mind at the last moment.

After retiring to chambers briefly to deliberate on punishment, magistrate Axiaq found the man guilty on his own admission and condemned him to imprisonment for seven months.