The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Russian military aviation company official jailed after using fake ID to enter Malta seeks asylum

Monday, 25 April 2022, 13:56 Last update: about 20 days ago

A Russian military aviation company official who requested asylum in Malta has been jailed after he admitted to having presented a counterfeit Lithuanian ID card at the airport upon arrival.

The man, who is not being named by order of the court, is married to a Ukrainian woman and is understood to have absconded from Russia, effectively ending his career because he did not want to aid the Russian government in killing his Ukrainian family and friends.

ADVERTISEMENT

He was arraigned before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech on Monday morning, immediately after the separate arraignment of a British national, who was accused of helping the Russian man enter Malta illegally.

Inspector Hubert Gerada arraigned the British man first, telling the court that the accused, who lives in Malta, had been advising the Russian national, who arrived in Malta on Saturday, 23 April, after the Russian man had been found to have been using a falsified immigration document.

Lawyer Noel Bianco assisted both men. The lawyer explained that the Englishman was the Russian man’s brother in law. The Russian man worked with the VVF (Russian Air Force) in an undisclosed capacity. The other accused had been acting as an interpreter, Bianco said.

Prosecuting both men, Inspector Gerada said that the British national had been arrested on suspicion of assisting the Russian man to illegally gain entry to Malta with a fake Lithuanian ID card and had lied to the police about his brother-in-law not having another passport, whilst acting as an interpreter on the Russian’s behalf.

Lawyer Noel Bianco informed the court that a guilty plea would be entered. The British man confirmed his plea but was overruled when he asked to be allowed to explain the situation.

The court warned the Englishman that he was facing a maximum punishment of two years or a fine.

During the submissions on the Englishman's punishment, the prosecution confirmed that he had cooperated with the Maltese authorities. For the defence, Bianco also highlighted the accused’s cooperation and explained that the accused had employees who depended on him. The lawyer suggested a fine. 

Inspector Gerada concurred, stressing that the man had cooperated with the investigation.

The British man was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 months, suspended for two years.

The court was told that the second person to be arraigned in connection with the case had “worked in Russian military aviation” and was married to a Ukrainian woman. He had escaped from Russia via Turkey, said the inspector. “After we discovered his document was false, he requested asylum. It is reasonable for him to have done so.”

Magistrate Frendo Dimech noted that the accused had a pending asylum request before the Maltese authorities. Due to the fact that the accused had family members still in Russia as well as in Ukraine, the parties suggested that his name be withheld from publication in the media for their protection. The court upheld this request.

Bianco informed the court that his client would also be pleading guilty.  

Inspector Gerada said the charges “are what they are” and suggested a prison sentence on the lower end of the spectrum.

In his submissions on punishment, Bianco once again stressed the accused’s cooperation with the police, arguing that the “very particular” circumstances of this case merited clemency.

The court sentenced the Russian man to six months in prison.

  • don't miss