Jail for three foreigners trying to leave with fake documents

A court has taken a hard line on immigration offences, jailing three men who tried to use fake travel documents to travel from Malta to mainland Europe and the UK

Three men were jailed after pleading guilty to trying to leave Malta with false travel documents
Three men were jailed after pleading guilty to trying to leave Malta with false travel documents

It was a tough day in court for three migrants who were jailed for six months each after pleading guilty to using false documents to travel out of Malta.

Magistrate Ian Farrugia handed down the minimum six-month jail term contemplated by the Passports Ordinance to Adam Mussa Ayman and Al Hofiz Mohamed from Sudan, and Prendi Zef from Albania.

Ayman and Mohamed arrived in Malta on boats last October and applied for asylum. They were living at the Hal Far tent village. Zef had entered the country legitimately.

The Sudanese men pleaded guilty to charges of knowingly being in possession of falsified documents and making use of them, under the Criminal Code, the Immigration Act and the Passports Ordinance.

They were apprehended while boarding a flight to Brussels using fake Italian ID cards.

Using tough language, the magistrate said the pair were not content to stay in Malta while their asylum application was being processed.

Legal aid lawyer Martin Fenech argued that different magistrates took different approaches to the problem. The men could have been victims of human trafficking, he argued. “You cannot prosecute victims of human trafficking for being trafficked,” he said.

But Inspector Frankie Sammut, prosecuting, pointed out that the accused had asked someone to help them get fake documents so as to leave Malta and that this was not human trafficking.

“Out there they’re saying that if you are caught [with fake documents], you’ll get away Scot free,” he said, adding that he wasn’t pressing for the €11,647 fine contemplated in the Immigration Act and which could also be imposed on the men.

In another case this morning, an Albanian man was also jailed for six months for trying to fly to London’s Gatwick Airport on a false Greek identity card.

Prendi Zef, 26, pleaded guilty to charges identical to those faced by the two men before him. Zef is thought to have entered Malta legitimately as Albanian nationals do not require a visa to visit Malta.

Fenech, also appearing as legal aid for Zef, had argued that in this case, the accused needed to leave Albania because his life was in danger, saying that this “is also a form of human trafficking.”

The six-month jail terms buck the trend of handing down suspended sentences in such cases.

Zef will be deported after serving his sentence.

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