Smugglers who made a hefty profit from transporting migrants get jail terms

Europe RFI/Alexis Bedu
DEC 7, 2021 LISTEN
RFI/Alexis Bedu

Three people smugglers were handed between one and four year jail terms by a court in Boulogne-sur-Mer in the north of France on Monday.

According to the France Bleue Nord news site, the three smugglers were handed jail terms for their part in organising the transport of around 530 migrants across the English Channel between June and August this year.

The activities of the trio, one Syrian and two Iraqi-Kurdish men, had resulted in a turnover of more than one million euros, it said.

When their car was pulled over near Calais, police found life jackets inside and a passenger migrant who was planning an imminent sea crossing.

Several videos on the suspects' mobile phones were found during the police investigation, including thank you messages from several migrants and a TikTok video in which the suspects appeared to be promoting their business.

The police found a notebook listing more than 150 names and ages of migrants, one labelled as a baby, as well as the amount of 174,000 euros next to each entry.

Although the court recognised that the men were not the organisers of a network, they were "intermediaries" and therefore considered smugglers.

The men's lawyer said however that his clients were themselves victims of a system, trying to make some money in order to pay for their own crossing to the English coast.

Tragedy at sea

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Lille have opened an investigation for homicide and bodily harm, membership of a criminal gang, and aiding in the illegal crossing of borders, into five people directly linked the tragic 24 November crossing that saw 27 migrants die when their inflatable raft sank.

The disaster has added to the ongoing tensions between France and Britain over the issue of patrolling the French coastline.

France last week turned down a British proposal to mount a joint British-French patrol in the English Channel to prevent clandestine migrant crossings.

French prime minister Castex instead called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide a legal pathway for migrants seeking asylum in Britain.

"We cannot accept ... British police or military patrols on our coast. It's a question of sovereignty and I know your government's sensitivity towards respecting the sovereignty of others," Castex said.

ModernGhana Links

Join our Newsletter