Prosecutors demand 5 years in jail for human trafficker

Prosecutors demand 5 years in jail for human trafficker
Credit: Belga

A human smuggler who illegally trafficked migrants by truck from Maximilian Park to the United Kingdom at least 33 times could face five years in prison for the crime.

Bruzz reports that the Halle-Vilvoorde public prosecutor's office demanded the sentence yesterday afternoon, alleging that the 35-year-old Sudanese man being charged is clearly a leader of a larger criminal organisation, though no other members of that organisation could be identified in the investigation.

The defence argues that this is because there are no other members, and the defendant is not the leader of any sort of organisation.

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“This is a man who fled from Sudan himself and, like so many others, wanted to make the crossing to the United Kingdom,” they said in their defence.

“He tried to help other people and put them in contact with smugglers, but he never made a penny himself. He stopped months before his arrest and is now trying to build a life here.”

But the public prosecutor says the man, who was said to be actively trafficking people between December 2017 and March 2018, was heard in tapped phone calls discussing money and claiming that “he does not work for free.”

“There are also contacts with France and Germany and in the months that he was followed, he changed handsets and numbers several times," the prosecutor said.

It is alleged that the man recruited migrants almost daily around the Brussels North Station and the Maximilian Park, who he then took or sent to the parking lot along the E40 in Groot-Bijgaarden to be put onto trucks bound for the United Kingdom.

The man also used parking lots in Bièrges and Mons on occasion.

A verdict will be determined on 10 March.

Helen Lyons

The Brussels Times

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