Syrian, Nigerian and Ivorian men plead guilty to immigration offences

Three men were handed suspended sentences after pleading guilty to different immigration offences

Three foreign men have been handed suspended sentences for immigration offences during separate arraignments this afternoon.

Ousman Kere, a 28-year old Ivorian, and 39-year old Chukwuka Samuel Okon from Nigeria were both arrested yesterday at the airport while attempting to use someone else’s passport to travel to Italy.

Inspector Darren Buhagiar told Magistrate Charmaine Galea that both Kere and Okon had been granted refugee status in Italy.

Kere had told police that he had tried to use a friend’s documents to travel back to Italy in order to renew his own, expired, travel documents. Okon claimed to have lost his documents and that the replacement papers had not been issued in time for his trip to Malta.

The inspector informed the court that Okon had been travelling back and forth between Malta and Italy since 2013, adding that the police had established that he was working in Malta without a work permit.

Both men pleaded guilty and were handed a one-year prison sentence, suspended for three years.

Also arraigned this afternoon was a 31-year-old Syrian, Ahmad Shamou. Inspector Buhagiar explained that the accused had been arrested in the UK and sent to Malta under the Dublin procedure, after his fingerprints were traced to an asylum application in Malta.

The prosecution explained that when asked why he had not completed this process, Shamou had explained that he had been unable to bring his family to Malta. After this setback, the Syrian had decided to try his luck in UK, the court was told.

Lawyer Joseph Ellis argued that handing Shamou a prison sentence would be cruel. The accused interjected, speaking through a translator. “What I did was right, I did no wrong,” he protested, although he eventually pleaded guilty to the charge.

Shamou was handed a six-month sentence, suspended for three years.