The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

Three men jailed after trying to travel with fake documents

Monday, 18 March 2019, 14:40 Last update: about 4 months ago

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.

Quoting the Passports Ordinance, which stipulates that persons using false documents to travel will be jailed for a minimum of 6 months, magistrate Ian Farrugia jailed Adam Mussa Ayman and Al Hofiz Mohamed from Sudan, who reside at the Hal Far tent village for 6 months.

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The men had 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.

The two accused had arrived in Malta on boats last October and applied for asylum. “They weren’t content to stay here whilst their application is processed,” noted the magistrate, as he was told that they were apprehended whilst boarding a flight to Brussels using fake Italian ID cards.

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 € 11,646.87 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 6 month jail terms buck the trend of handing criminals a suspended sentence in such cases.

Zef will be deported after serving his sentence.

 

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