Minor stowaways fled Malta to return to home country

The two went aboard a ship supposedly headed to Catania, hoping it would be their ticket to reunite with their families in France and Italy

Two minors were charged with being stowaways on Friday as the court heard how they secretly infiltrated a ship headed to Catania in the hopes that they might return to their families. 

The migrants, both from Tunisia, were residents at the Hal Far migrant village and the Safi detention centre respectively. 

The two went aboard a ship supposedly headed to Catania, hoping it would be their ticket to reunite with their families in France and Italy. However, upon arriving at the destination, the migrants were refused entry and they were eventually returned to Malta.

They were brought to court this afternoon and police initiated procedures against them. The prosecution argued that in similar cases, the accused usually face an effective prison sentence. 

“The punishment for such a crime can be up to two years in prison but since they are minors, the court might consider a non-effective prison sentence,” presiding magistrate Charmaine Galea said. 

The two minors pleaded guilty to being stowaways and reaffirmed their guilty plea after some deliberation and with the help of a translator. 

The prosecution agreed with legal aid lawyer Ibtisam Sadegh that a suspended sentence would be more appropriate in this case since they were vulnerable minors. 

Two representatives of the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers testified in court and said that they were the legal guardians of the two minors. 

The accused are currently waiting for the Maltese government to relocate them to their families in France and Italy. 

The court sentenced them to a month in prison suspended for a year.

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