Man remanded in custody for passport switch

20-year-old Malian Ngama Sangare tried to travel usingfake Italian passport

The man had a false Italian passport
The man had a false Italian passport

A Hal Far open centre resident appeared to be under the impression that he can always expect to get away with a suspended sentence, after he balked at pleading guilty to buying a passport upon being told that he would be jailed if he did .

The courts have long been criticised for doling out suspended sentences for admissions, but an arraignment before magistrate Joe Mifsud may go some way to reverse this.

20-year-old Malian Ngama Sangare, a resident at the Hal Far Open Centre whose application for refugee status stalled due to incomplete documentation, appeared in court today on charges of using someone else's passport.

Inspector Victor Aquilina told the court that Sangare had been arrested yesterday at the MIA departure lounge, after trying to use an Italian passport issued to one, Fofana Mate.

The Malian was also accused of possession of an official document belonging to someone else, and making a false declaration to the immigration authorities.

Aquilina told the court that Sangare had said that he had paid someone €119 for the document.

Before entering his plea, the court warned the accused that it would be applying a custodial sentence should he plead guilty, as the accused is a Maltese resident and could not be sent back.

Defence lawyer Noel Bartolo said that the accused was aware. However the accused objected, saying that he had been told to could expect a suspended sentence in return for a guilty plea.

The accused failed to enter a plea and so a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf by the court.

The defence's request for bail was refused and the man was remanded in custody, pending trial.