Two Malians, en route to Malta, arrested in Catania over fake residency permits

Two Malian men on their way to Malta arrested by Italian police at Catania airport after admitting to bearing fake Italian residency permits.

Two Malian men who were traveling to Malta were arrested by Italian police at the airport in Catania on Saturday.

The police made the arrests, the sixth in a week; after the men were found to be bearing fake residency permits while the police were carrying out checks at the Vincenzo Bellini airport.

Cataniatoday reported that the two men were in possession of two valid Mali passports and two fake residency permits. The two men reported to having purchased the fake residency permits in Naples.

On Saturday, the police arrested a Somali man suspected of having managed the trips of over 200 migrants who wanted to reach Malta from Italy. The man was held yesterday afternoon but the police are still searching for another man linked to the racket, while a 31-year-old man from Birkirkara was arrested on suspicion of aiding migrants leave Italy illegally.

The police are still searching for another man linked to the racket. 

On two separate but related occasions, the Italian authorities stopped four Syrians at the Bergamo and Ciampino airports as they tried to reach Malt using fake documents.

Stricter checks and controls at the borders and the suspension of Schengen rules in Malta and Italy led to renewed passport controls. In turn, this uncovered a “racket” under which migrants would cross over, seeking asylum on the island.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has since insisted that the Syrians heading to Malta bearing fake passports had no ‘ulterior motives’ and denied that two of the men had ISIS related material on their phones.