4 people smugglers in custody after boat ran into difficulties off Ostend

Four people smugglers (two Italians and two Albanians) are currently on remand. Last June a sailing boat ran into difficulties off Ostend. On board were nine Albanian nationals, including two of the four people smugglers.    

It was on 14 June 2019 that a sailing boat encountered difficulties off Ostend when it suffered engine failure. On board the boat were nine Albanians, two of whom people smugglers. Almost eight months later they are still on remand at Bruges prison.   

The investigation is still ongoing and involves officers from the Maritime Police and the West Flemish Federal Judicial Police Service. During the course of the investigation two other suspect have been identified and detained. They are a 46-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman, both of whom Italian nationals.

They are suspected of having been involved in the purchase of the boat. 

The Examining Magistrate handling the case issued a European arrest warrant for the two Italians. They were both detained in Italy and held at an Italian prison awaiting their transfer to Belgium. Last Thursday the officers from the Federal Judicial Police human smuggling team accompanied the two Italians on a flight from Italy to Belgium.  

They will soon appear in court in Bruges together with the two Albanians.