A magistrate on Tuesday voiced concern over frequent cases stemming from false travel documents, saying that such cases could mask a deeper reality, generating funds that could support terrorist activity.

Magistrate Joseph Mifsud - who has co-authored a book about terrorism in Malta - made the observation during the arraignment of two men and two women, arrested on Monday after being found in possession of false passports and Italian identity cards.

Mohammed Said Smaali, 21, a Tunisian national, Abdulsemat Suleman, a 19-year old Sudanese man, Fanta Kanata, 20, and Cisse Mana, 21, both Ivorian nationals, were arrested at Malta International Airport on suspicion of being in possession of false documents.

The men were on the way to catch a morning flight to Turin, whereas the women were travelling to Rome and Milan respectively on Monday afternoon.

All four, assisted by two interpreters, pleaded guilty.

Magistrate Mifsud said humanitarian cases merit help, but these cases of false documents were becoming a common occurrence.  

He said he did “not exclude” the possibility that such falsification of documents was generating money that was channelled into funding terrorism.

“You have aided criminal activity,” the magistrate told all four accused standing at the dock. “And the same goes for corruption,” Magistrate Mifsud went on.

Upon the accused’s own admission the court declared them guilty and handed each a 6-month effective jail term, further urging immigration authorities to make arrangements for their repatriation where possible.

Inspector Lara Butters prosecuted.

Lawyer Christopher Chircop was legal aid counsel.

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