Two young Vietnamese men who travelled to Malta under the pretext of studying English but ultimately aimed at getting a job on mainland Europe, have ended up behind bars after they were caught trying to travel to Germany with someone else’s passports. A third man was jailed for providing fake passports.
Police launched investigations some months ago when a group of students from Vietnam, who had come to Malta to study English at various language schools did not all return to their homeland once studies were over.
Another three Vietnamese were jailed last week after also using fake passports to try to travel to France after coming here on the pretext of language studies.
Inspector Frankie Sammut told a court on Monday that in view of their suspicions, the police some months ago started asking students arriving in Malta to hand their passports to the police, getting them back once their studies were over and upon presentation of an outbound ticket.
But in these two latest cases, the students were apparently so intent on getting to Germany that they attempted to travel out of Malta by playing imposters.
They were arrested by immigration police at the airport.
Nguyen Van Hung, 27, was intercepted while about to catch a flight to Berlin on Sunday afternoon as he presented a Vietnamese passport belonging to another person.
Tran Dinh Giap, 18, was arrested on Saturday afternoon, while trying to fly out with another person and in possession of a Dutch passport belonging to a third party.
Both admitted to possession of documents which belonged to someone else and also using them in their attempt to leave Malta.
The two were each handed a six-month effective jail term with a recommendation to the Director of Prisons for the youths to serve that punishment at the young offenders section.
Magistrate Kevan Azzopardi said the use of someone else’s passport was a serious offence that merited a jail term.
He ordered that their own passports were to be handed to the Principal Immigration Officer to take further measures as he deemed fit once the accused had served punishment.
Both youths were assisted by legal aid lawyer Martin Farrugia.
A third Vietnamese man, Tran The Xuong, 54, who allegedly procured the Dutch passport used by the 18-year old was jailed for a year.
The court heard that Xuong was travelling with the 18-year old and had in his possession all the documents, both their own genuine passports as well as the third party documents.
Besides his own passport and the false one used by the 18-year old, the man also had another passport belonging to a female Vietnamese national who was not present.
Xuong pleaded guilty to aiding the 18-year old to travel out of Malta in breach of immigration laws, possessing passports belonging to third parties and attempting to make use of someone else’s passport.
The prosecution said Xuong bought the outbound tickets and procured the passports for others to travel out of the island illegally.
“Another person was also meant to travel with them but apparently seemed to have had a change of mind,” added the prosecutor when making submissions on punishment, stressing that a message was to be sent out.
Defence lawyers Mattia Felice countered that the accused cooperated throughout and admitted immediately to his mistake.
Any effective term of imprisonment was to be as brief as possible, argued the lawyer.
Magistrate Azzopardi declared Xuong guilty and condemned him to a one-year effective jail term and a fine of €6,000 payable over nine months.