Derby Alleged People Smuggler 'Brought Hundreds To Britain'

26 July 2016, 15:10

West Yorks Human Trafficking Victim

A British-Iraqi man from Derby is the head of a people-smuggling network suspected of bringing hundreds of migrants to Britain, a court has heard.

Rekawt Kayani, 34, is wanted in France to face trafficking charges which could see him jailed for 10 years.

He was apprehended on a European arrest warrant at his home in Normanton in May.

Rebecca Hill, for the French authorities, told an extradition hearing at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court: ``The European arrest warrant sets out that Mr Kayani is the head of a trafficking organisation, specifically an Iraqi Kurdish network, facilitating movement to Britain from its base camp in France.

``Mr Kayani was assisted by Iraqi Kurdish lieutenants who were responsible for the passages and the handling of migrants.''

Kayani is accused of facilitating the unauthorised entry of aliens into France or another Schengen state and criminal conspiracy.

Ms Hill said his involvement in the conspiracy was at a high ``directorial'' level and he even switched departure points to the Netherlands.

Intercept material, ground surveillance and statements from Polish drivers are among the evidence which would be used against Kayani.

The investigation stretches back to 2014 and it is alleged that Kayani was linked to numerous smuggling runs from 2014 to January 2016.

It is believed that they departed from France and the Netherlands but the gang was based in France.

Ms Hill pointed to a run on 16 December 2014 when 32 migrants were trafficked and a ``similar passage of migrants'' days later.

The drivers have spoken of smuggling runs in March, May and June 2015, she said.

This includes one in June 2015 when four divers and 51 Chinese migrants arrived in Harwich, Essex.

Ms Hill told the court that Kayani had organised ``at least another three passages'' from France. Concealed compartments in the back of a van were used and the drivers were from Russia and Lithuania.

It is also alleged there were successful passages from the French ports of Caen and Dieppe.

Defence lawyer Ben Seifert suggested that Kayani had not yet been charged by the French authorities and that the allegations were still under investigation.

Ms Hill insisted that Kayani was wanted in order to be prosecuted.

Mr Seifert also attacked the make-up of the arrest warrant claiming that it simply did not say in sufficient detail what Kayani was supposed to have done.

This was evidence which the French authorities would have but not releasing it put Kayani ``at great disadvantage'', according to Mr Seifert.

He also argued the case could be dealt with in Britain since some of the alleged offending and potential harm took place here.

Describing this as a ``gross simplification'', Ms Hill said that French borders were violated and that a criminal conspiracy was organised in its territory.

District judge Vanessa Baraitser said she would give her extradition decision and her reasons for it at the same court on September 15.

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