The police have foiled an attempt by a group of Vietnamese students who came to Malta to study English but attempted to flee towards mainland Europe using forged passports, a court heard on Friday.

Police Inspector Hubert Gerada detailed the plan during the arraignment of three students aged 18 and 23, who came for a four-month English language course but were arrested at the airport, having tried to board a flight to France with a fake passport.

He explained that this was the culmination of several weeks of investigation following a tipoff that Vietnamese students were planning to reach mainland Europe after coming to Malta on a student visa.

He said that as part of the police investigation, the police had identified a total of 160 students from Vietnam who are currently in Malta to study English and proceeded to collect all their passports.

One language school told the police that they had 21 students who were meant to leave Malta earlier this week but only six had turned up for their flight back home. The rest were nowhere to be found.

Nguyen Thi Nhung, 23, as well as Phan Van Tai and Nguyen Van Cuong, both of whom are 18 years old, admitted to attempting to use a forged passport to leave Malta and were each jailed for six months by Magistrate Victor Axiak.

Lawyer Mario Caruana assisted the accused.

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