From file: Coast guard patrol in the harbor of Valletta, Malta, with migrants on board | Photo: Reuters
From file: Coast guard patrol in the harbor of Valletta, Malta, with migrants on board | Photo: Reuters

A Syrian man living in Malta has been charged with human trafficking for allegedly coordinating a migrant boat's arrival into the country, according to Maltese media reports. Police said investigations are still ongoing and that further arrests in connection with the case should not be excluded.

A Syrian man living in Malta was charged in court on Monday (19 September) on accusations of human trafficking after he allegedly coordinated the arrival of a group of irregular migrants in Malta, according to local media reports.

The arraignment is part of an ongoing investigation following the arrival of a boat carrying undocumented migrants from Libya in Delimara Bay, Malta between 13 and 14 September.

Police said its probe focused on who could have coordinated the migrants' arrival, the Malta Independent reported, adding that investigations were ongoing and that police did not rule out further arrests.

The man is understood to have confessed to his guilt during interrogation and was expected to admit the charges, Malta Today reported, adding that at the request of the prosecution, the details of the case would not be made public. The rest of the case is expected to be heard behind closed doors.

The man was charged in court before Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit with lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri as the defence counsel.

Malta cracks down on irregular migrants

Malta toughened its position on migrant search and rescue operations in 2020. The island nation between Sicily and the north African coast has coordinated several returns to Libya with the assistance of the Libyan Coast Guard, resulting in the deaths of migrants.

In April 2020, the Maltese government stated that it could no longer "guarantee the rescue of 'prohibited immigrants' on board any boats, ships or other vessels, nor to ensure the availability of a 'safe place' on Maltese territory to any persons rescued at sea."

 

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