Five people suspected of belonging to an Albanian gang of human traffickers were released on Monday morning by the Criminal Court in Brussels after their trial was not able to take place. For the fourth time, the defendants could not be transported to the court-room due to security staff shortages. The men must pay bail of 4,000 euros and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Hal-Vilvorde area may still appeal the judgement. It is alleged that the organisation to which the accused men belonged organised at least eighty-four immigrant journeys to the United Kingdom between November 2013 and June 2014. The undocumented migrants had to pay up to 3,000 euros each to be crammed into a lorry located in a car park along the E40 motorway. Those who wanted a “guaranteed” journey to the United Kingdom had to pay up to 6,000 euros. They were then picked up from Brussels and driven by car to the Netherlands, from where they took a lorry to the United Kingdom.
The trial was scheduled for May 13th but it wasn’t possible to transport the defendants to court that day. The trial was postponed to May 19th, then to May 27th and finally June 1st, each time because the defendants could not be transported to court.
During this time, the defense requested the 6 defendants be released. Yet again on Monday morning, the defendants failed to be transported to court and the court decided to release 5 of them. This decision was made on the basis of their ability to produce a residential address and on condition of a bail payment of 4,000-euros.
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)