Arrested Afghans suspected of people-trafficking after small boat sinks off De Panne

Two Afghan nationals have been arrested on suspicion of people-trafficking after an incident with a small boat that sank off De Panne (West Flanders) earlier this week.

The Afghans are suspected of links with a gang of people-traffickers keen to take migrants to the UK. They were stopped in a car with French number plates on Monday night and couldn’t produce a valid reason to explain why they were in the area. Police arrested the men and were later able to connect them with migrants found in De Panne.

Federal police have meanwhile launched a racism investigation after hateful comments appeared on social media after a search was launched for migrants who had failed in their attempt to gain illegal access to the UK. Ieper prosecutors confirm that they contacted the internet division of the federal police and requested an investigation into possible violations of anti-racism legislation after negative comments appeared online. “It’s an important signal to show this won’t be tolerated” said Johan Lescrauwaet. Police will now investigate whether anybody incited hatred.  If offences have been committed, prosecutions could follow.  Punishments range from up to a year in jail to 8,000 euros in fines.