Deportee jailed for returning to Malta under new name

A 30-year-old man from Georgia has been jailed for re-entering Malta under a new name, a month after being deported.

Sliema resident Vaja Tsikoridze was arraigned before magistrate Aaron Bugeja this morning on charges of having failed to officially declare his entry into Malta following his deportation in May this year.

Tsikoridze was apprehended by the police on July 25.

Police Inspector Darren Buhagiar told the court that after his deportation, Tsikoridze had re-entered Malta using a different surname. 

The Criminal Investigation Department had suspected that he was an irregular immigrant and had run background checks, finding out that the man's name was on an alert list and confirmed that the Maltese authorities had already deported him once. 

Tsikoridze had been deported to Georgia in May, after immigration officials staff noticed that he had overstayed his visa.

The Inspector explained that when police had asked why he had two identity cards, bearing different surnames, the man had claimed that it was a "normal practice" to go to the Ministry of Justice in Georgia and apply for an ID card with a different surname.

Inspector Buhagiar argued for a custodial sentence, saying that the courts must discourage attempts to circumvent the law.

The accused pleaded guilty to the charges, but insisted that he had only found out that his actions were illegal after his arrival in Malta.

In submissions on punishment, defence lawyer Leontine Calleja argued that the man was a victim of administrative shortcomings in his homeland and should not be punished for this. “In his case, it was a genuine mistake. He did not know the system worked differently in Malta,”

However, the court, after noting that he had already been deported once and had concocted a strategy to return to Malta, a custodial sentence was merited. Tsikoridze was sentenced to three months in prison.

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