19 January 2019
Photo: HKEJ
Photo: HKEJ

Pakistani man sentenced to jail for human smuggling

A District Court judge has sentenced a Pakistani man to five years and three months in prison after he was found guilty of two human trafficking-related charges.

Suleman Muhammad, 27, was charged with helping illegals enter Hong Kong and endangering the lives of people, Sing Tao Daily reports.

Muhammad was the first snakehead to be convicted after the government announced amendments to the Immigration Ordinance in May last year.

The court heard that the defendant helped 24 asylum seekers of South Asian origin illegally enter Hong Kong on May 25 on a motorized sampan.

They were caught in waters off Chek Lap Kok airport by the marine police.

The judge said a five-year jail term was appropriate since the defendant was not the mastermind but only a member of a human smuggling syndicate.

Under the new regulations, those found to have arranged or assisted in the unauthorized entry of people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia or Sri Lanka into Hong Kong are liable to a prison term of up to 14 years and a fine of up to HK$5 million.

The previous penalties were three to seven years in jail and a fine of up to HK$600,000.

Before the amendments, unauthorized entrants were limited to those from the mainland, Macau and Vietnam.

In addition, the judge ruled that the defendant deserved another three months in jail for providing neither fire equipment nor life jackets on the boat for safety.

A senior inspector from the marine police regional headquarters said most of the people on the boat had been deported back to their home countries while the rest had been jailed for other crimes, according to Ming Pao Daily.

Immigration Department data shows a total of 8,146 non-Chinese illegal entrants were caught by police between 2014 and February, 2017.

Among them, 56 percent were from Vietnam and 22 percent from Pakistan.

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