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Migrants use 'State of Sabotage' passports

Three immigrants were yesterday jailed for two months for trying to board a catamaran to Sicily with blatantly fake passports issued by "the State of Sabotage and the Government of World Citizens".

The bogus passports did not even carry the photographs of the men who tried to use them but displayed pictures of random strangers, Police Inspector Mario Haber told the court yesterday.

The passports were so manifestly false that the police did not even classify them as a forgery and the men were only charged with trying to leave Malta without documentation on Saturday.

During the arraignment, Magistrate Antonio Mizzi heard Mustafa Sarim, 20, from Burkina Faso, and Nigerians John Bull Ibrahim, 23, and Christian Obice, 21, admit to the charges. A fourth man, Promise Ndubueze, 30, of Nigeria, was jailed for a month for escaping from the Safi detention centre.

Mr Obice and Mr Ibrahim were also charged with escaping from detention.

In a separate arraignment, Nigerian national Michael Chileno Okechukwu Ama Obi, 45, was charged with human trafficking when he allegedly helped the men in their attempt to board the catamaran.

This seems to be a new trend by immigrants in Malta to get to Italy and central Europe. Last month, the Italian media reported that nine immigrants were returned to Malta after they were caught aboard a catamaran headed for Pozzallo. They were arraigned in Malta.

Mr Ama Obi pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him. His lawyers - Andy Ellul and Vince Micallef - asked for bail. They argued that their client was married to a Maltese woman and the couple had an 11-month-old child. Therefore, he had strong bonds with Malta and there was no risk he would abscond. Inspector Haber objected to the granting of bail and explained that Mr Ama Obi owned an internet business in Italy where he had lived for 13 years and had a 12-year-old daughter.

The magistrate denied the request for bail at this stage.

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