Boat owner, crew charged with human smuggling
The owner of a fishing boat, the captain and its crew were yesterday remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to smuggling 20 Arab men into Malta.
The owner, Martin Cachia, 53, from Marsascala, captain Mohamed Hegazy, 37, and crew Abdou Elbahlawan, 27, Mohamed Barakat, 32 and Mohamed Elrawady, 33, all Egyptian and living on the boat Liberty 5, denied the charges.
The boat was intercepted on Monday night and 13 Syrians, six Moroccans and one Algerian were found hidden inside the hold.
In pleas on bail, lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha said there was no fear Mr Cachia might abscond because the boat was in the possession of the police.
Police Inspector Mario Haber objected to bail being granted arguing the accused faced a maximum of 11 years in jail.
Lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili countered that the crew had not received their salaries from Mr Cachia for some three months and were at his mercy.
Magistrate Marseann Farrugia remanded all of them in custody.