Updated | Police arrest nine over suspected human trafficking

Identity Malta has flagged an alleged case of human trafficking revolving around the employment of Asian nationals working at a cleaning company • 14 victims have testified in a magisterial inquiry, nine arrested

Human trafficking ring smashed
Human trafficking ring smashed

A joint operation between the police and Identity Malta has smashed a human trafficking ring, according to Reforms Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli. In court on Friday, 14 victims testified in a magisterial inquiry that is currently underway.

"Following intensive investigations, Identity Malta reported a case to the Police that led to a magisterial inquiry, which was launched yesterday afternoon before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech in order to hear the testimonies of 14 persons who could potentially be victims of human trafficking," read a government statement.

Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia broke the news on Twitter
Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia broke the news on Twitter

"Consequently, nine persons, both Maltese and foreigners, were arrested this morning in order to assist the Police in their investigations."

The news was initially announced by Farrugia Portelli on Twitter. She indicated that Identity Malta, the agency that falls under her remit, had been working on the case over the past weeks before flagging the matter to the police.

The government said that over the last few months the agency had conducted an exercise on a number of applications for a residence permit submitted by third country nationals.

The applications, it said, had been submitted by local employers on behalf of non-European workers in order to take up low-skilled work in Malta, mainly in the cleaning industry.

"During the investigation, it transpired that 14 Asian workers employed by the same local company could have possibly been subjected to human trafficking," said the statement, adding that information complied by Identity Malta had been essential in facilitating the police's compilation of evidence.

While the statement made no mention of the company's name, it said that it was not being excluded that more evidence could be collected from workers at the company.

"From the outset of the investigations, the Maltese authorities have provided all the necessary assistance to the alleged victims who collaborated in the Police investigation. If these persons are confirmed to be victims of human trafficking, they will be granted the protection and support according to Subsidiary Legislation 217.07."

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