Maltese nationals to face charges on conspiracy to human trafficking

A Sicilian Magistrate has ordered the arrest of two Maltese nationals who are to face charges on conspiracy to human trafficking and illegal immigration.

Madrid-born Joseph Xerri, 43 and Kurt Buhagiar 26 from Birkirkara, have been arrested by order of Magistrates Salvatore Giampicco and Carmelo Petralia.

Both Scerri and Buhagiar were arrested in September last year after being intercepted on a high-powered speedboat after allegedly smuggling 19 African migrants into Sicily.

The two men were involved in a high-speed chase on the high seas with a Guardia di Finanza patrol boat, and a number of rounds were fired in a bid to stop the power boat.

Italian border police had monitored the disembarking of the migrants, before giving chase to the Maltese who were speeding back to Malta.

Last September, the Maltese men - together with another co-conspirator Michael Aquilina - were interrogated and transferred to a jail in Ragusa and have been kept in custody there ever since. The new arrest warrants were delivered in prison, while further investigations were still ongoing with regards to Michael Aquilina.

The arrests reportedly triggered investigations also in Malta with police immediately raiding the known addresses of the accused.

Senior police sources confirmed that José Xerri is well known to them and is among the list of “usual suspects” where illegal immigration is concerned.

When Xerri and Buhagiar were arrested last September they were with another Maltese national, identified as Michael Aquilina, 23 from Pieta’.

However, the arrest warrants issued this morning by the Sicilian Magistrates do not mention Aquilina.

Magistrates Salvatore Giampicco and Carmelo Petralia addressed the media during a press conference in Ragusa explaining that the police worked in tandem with the Guardia di Finanza.

Denominated as 'Operazione Double Impact' the investigations allegedly implicate Xerri and Buhagiar as the masterminds behind the trafficking of migrants between Libya, Malta and Sicily.

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Michael Gauci
I hope they get to be very old staring at four walls.In league with people who want to change the face of Europe, hopefully they will join them too.