VRT NWS

Iraqis eager to buy 20 life jackets held on people-trafficking charges

Two Iraqi nationals suspected of people-trafficking are to remain in custody for a further month.  It was last week that staff at sports store Decathlon in Roeselare (West Flanders) alerted the police after the duo wanted to buy twenty life jackets.

Decathlon staff soon became suspicious and when police arrived the two Iraqis were led away for questioning.  A woman in their company insisted she wasn’t aware of the plans and was only letting the guys use her vehicle.

An examining magistrate arrested the two Iraqis aged 22 and 38 on people-trafficking charges. One of the suspects is understood to have already been convicted of the offence.  The second man claimed he was a victim and only wanted to help out relatives.

Bruges prosecutor Frank Demeester confirmed that it’s not only on the coast of northern France but also on the Belgian coast that people-traffickers hoping to smuggle people into the UK are active.

“We see people traffickers purchasing inflatable craft in Belgium as well as life jackets.  Recent incidents involving refugees, who were pushed into the North Sea from the Belgian coast in inflatables, have increased attention for this phenomenon.”

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