Lampedusa survivor who absconded to the Netherlands, imprisoned in Malta

Rescued migrant who left Malta without undocumented to the Netherlands, was repatriated and now sentenced to six months’ imprisonment

File photo of Lampedusa survivors: a Syrian asylum seekers who travelled to the Netherlands without a passport has now been imprisoned for six months in Malta for leaving the country illegally.
File photo of Lampedusa survivors: a Syrian asylum seekers who travelled to the Netherlands without a passport has now been imprisoned for six months in Malta for leaving the country illegally.

An emotional Syrian youth who was jailed for six months for absconding from the island, broke down in court as he faced the prospect of renewed imprisonment.

23-year-old Yones Omar, who resides at the Hal Far Open Centre, arrived in Malta on 12 October 2013, when he was rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta in the shipwreck off Lampedusa that cost the lives of over 400 asylum seekers and refugees.

Prosecuting inspector Jeanne Farrugia told the court that a number of undocumented migrants had attempted to leave Malta illegally, in full knowledge of the consequences they faced if caught without documentation.

Omar was apprehended in Holland and duly returned to Malta, and thes charged with having left Malta without valid travelling documents.

Asked by Magistrate Giovanni Grixti if he was aware that he had broke the law, the Syrian said he was and admitted to the charge.

However when judgement was pronounced and Omar realised that his punishment was a six-month jail term, he started shouting, threatening that if he spent just a day in prison he would “do something that all the country will hear about”.

As the accused burst into tears, the Magistrate explained that he had a right to appeal. Defence lawyer Mark Anthony Mifsud asked the court to suggest that the man be detained at the Forensic Unit rather than at the prisons.

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