Two Dutch accused of plan to ferry migrants to Britain
(AFP) Two Dutch men suspected of a plan to ferry illegal immigrants across the North Sea to Britain appeared in court Monday on human trafficking charges, prosecutors said.
The defendants identified as Djarno P., 25, and Sebastiaan van B., 26, were arrested in a police raid in August about to ferry 24 illegal refugees by yacht from the port of IJmuiden in northwest Netherlands to Britain, a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor's office said.
"The two are facing charges of attempted human trafficking and appeared before a judge for an initial hearing," Tine Zwiers said.
It was not revealed exactly where they were planning to take the migrants to and their last names were not given because of Dutch privacy rules.
Police and gendarmes stumbled upon the illegal migrants while carrying out routine border checks in IJmuiden harbour about 27 km west of Amsterdam on August 15, the public prosecutor's office said in a statement.
"An initial investigation showed the immigrants wanted to illegally travel to Britain and in most cases paid hefty sums," the statement added.
Police and gendarmes, who confiscated the small yacht called the "Moses Agga," said however they did not believe the craft would have made it safely across busy North Sea shipping lanes.
"The little yacht only has space for eight people on board," Royal gendarmerie spokesman Herald Meijer told the NOS public newscaster.
"Combined with the fact that the North Sea here is one of the world's busiest sea lanes and the lack of technical skill of the two suspects in crewing the yacht, we have serious doubts whether they would have made it," Meijer said.
The illegal immigrants consisted of a group of 13 Vietnamese and 11 Albanian citizens, who were charged between 449 to 2,695 euros for the crossing.
The immigrants gathered at a "safe house" in the town of Huizen near IJmuiden before being brought to the harbour.
Police arrested another five people in January in connection with the incident.
The two men will be released from custody on Tuesday and are to appear again with the five other suspects on April 22, Zwiers said.
If found guilty, the suspects could face a maximum of 12 years behind bars, she added.
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