'They are not criminals, they are scared' court told as two women jailed for fake passport use

The women, who were arrested at Malta International Airport whilst checking in to their flight to Berlin, had arrived in Malta on a boat last year and had attempted to claim asylum

Two women have been jailed after they admitted to using fake passports in an attempt to fly to Germany and ultimately, France.

31-year-old Julia Kindega Bassahae from Cameroon and Ake Angel, 35, from Ivory Coast were arraigned separately before magistrate Nadine Lia on Monday morning, accused of being in possession of a tampered passport and attempting to make use of it.

The women, who were arrested at Malta International Airport whilst checking in to their flight to Berlin, had arrived in Malta on a boat last year and had attempted to claim asylum.

“It appears that their final destination was not Malta,” said Inspector Frankie Sammut. “We offered them help, asylum and safe haven, but they seem to want to go to France.” The women had been given shelter, food and spending money, he added.

After they entered guilty pleas, lawyer Martin Fenech, appointed as legal aid to the accused women, argued that they were not hardened criminals and should not be jailed. They left their homeland fleeing persecution, he said.

“They are here because they just wanted a better life. Prison is for criminal behaviour. The court has the faculty of giving a suspended sentence. It can take years for passports to be issued to asylum seekers. They are not criminals. They are scared.” He added that the passports were clearly not fabricated in Malta. 

The court, after hearing the parties’ submissions and after looking at recent sentences on similar offences, jailed both women for 6 months.

More in Court & Police