Two Turkish mothers who allegedly fled their country after the failed coup five years ago, were jailed for six months in Malta on Wednesday after admitting to using forged travel documents.
The judgement was handed down amid constant wailing by the women's young sons, with the prosecution having informed the court that Appoġġ officials were waiting outside the courtroom to take temporary care of the children in the event that their mothers were handed an effective jail term.
The court heard that the women and two men had been travelling from Greece to Belgium via Malta when they were arrested for using forged documents.
Rabia Yavuz, 27 and Muzekka Deneri, 29 stood before Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras as the prosecuting officer explained how the two had been arrested on Monday at the airport.
Also arrested were Algerian national Yousef Hammat and Libyan national Mohamed Lassad Briki. The men were arraigned separately and jailed for six months after also pleading guilty to using false documents.
The prosecuting inspector, Karl Roberts, said human traffickers had probably devised a scheme whereby illegal migrants were set up as couples with small children.
He said the women had presented false French and Italian identity cards and one of them also had two false Romanian cards.
Assisted by two interpreters, the women admitted to knowingly possessing and making use of false documents, confirming that they were aware that the papers were false and had accepted them.
Women were teachers who fled their homeland
During submissions on punishment, legal aid lawyer Christopher Chircop explained that both mothers were teachers who had fled their homeland after the failed coup d’etat in 2016, seeking refuge in Greece.
But the COVID-19 pandemic had brought about further distress for the mothers, making it difficult for them to renew their residence documents which were due to expire.
In a bid to avoid repatriation by the Greek authorities, the mothers had tried to make their way to Belgium, in the hope of giving a better life to their kids, aged two and four.
In appealing for clemency, the lawyer said the women were not going on holiday. This, he stressed, was a particular case, different from others of the sort. Their children would face trauma if torn away from their mothers in an alien country, facing a language barrier and unfamiliar customs, he added.
However the prosecution rebutted that it was not Maltese authorities who were separating mothers and children, explaining further that the women’s husbands had taken the decision to send their wives and offspring on the risky journey.
After hearing submissions the court declared the mothers guilty upon their own admission and condemned them to a six-month effective jail term each.
As the outcome was relayed to them by the Turkish-speaking interpreter, both women broke down in tears, sobbing and asking for help as they were escorted out to the persistent cries of their little boys.
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