Iraqi Convicted For Transporting Migrants Claims Smuggler Made Him Drive

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A 19-year-old Iraqi national who was sentenced to two years in prison for transporting illegal immigrants claimed that he was offered passage to the United Kingdom by a people smuggler in return for driving the migrants.

19-year-old Ali Mohamad was arrested by police in northern France earlier this month when the vehicle he was driving, full of migrants, was seen on the A16 motorway near the Eurotunnel.

When French border police attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver fled toward Bazinghen but was later arrested by pursuing officers who found 39 illegal immigrants inside the van, the newspaper La Voix du Nord reports.

After his arrest, Mr Mohamad claimed that he had been offered passage to the United Kingdom by a people smuggler in exchange for driving the vehicle and that the smuggler had beat him when police first confronted his van, forcing him to swerve and flee the officials.

The court of Boulogne sentenced Mr Mohamad to two years in prison after finding him guilty on three separate charges and he will be banned from French territory for three years as well.

According to a report from the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants, there have been previous cases of smugglers forcing migrants to help in people smuggling, including having migrants who cannot afford their fees to drive boats across the English channel as a substitute for paying.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the number of illegal immigrants crossing the English Channel into the UK topped 10,000, a number totalling nearly all illegal entries in 2019 and 2020 put together.

While the UK’s Rwanda deal, which is intended to deport migrants to Rwanda who arrive illegally in the UK, initially seemed to deter some from making the crossing, the first flight ended with no migrants on board at all due to several legal challenges.

One case relating to the Rwanda flight ended up at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a court to which, despite Brexit, the UK is still a party. The court ruled last week that one of the few remaining migrants on the flight could not be deported from the UK., claiming there was no way for the Iraqi migrant to return to the UK if he suffered poor treatment while in Rwanda.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage commented on the ruling, stating that it proved the UK needed to complete Brexit and leave the ECHR. “We don’t need lessons from people in Strasbourg about justice and liberty, I think over the centuries we’ve done it rather better,” Farage stated.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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