A MAN has appeared in court in connection with a people smuggling racket. Ali Mohammed Raza, 38, is accused of being involved in a plot to smuggle four girls. He appeared via video link at Hull Crown Court dressed in a grey shirt with the word ‘Hull’ written on it.
Mr Raza spoke only to confirm his name at the preliminary hearing. An interpreter had been booked for the hearing but failed to attend.
His solicitor Geoff Ellis said: “I have seen him prior to this hearing and, unfortunately, as at the Magistrates Court, his English is extremely limited and he does need the assistance of an interpreter.”
The honorary Recorder of Hull and the East Riding Judge Michael Mettyear ordered the case to proceed due to the lawyers only setting a timetable.
Prosecutor Stephen Welch said: “I understand at three other defendants will be joined to this indictment. We estimate any trial will be in the region of two weeks.”
A date for a plea and case management hearing has been set for December 18 when it is expected he will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. A trial date has also been set for January 20 next year.
Mr Ellis explained to the court he would be unable to inform the defendant of the timetable that has been set due to his limited understanding of English. Judge Mettyear has ordered that Mr Raza should appear in person at court on the next occasion.
Mr Raza is accused of four counts of facilitating the commission of a breach of immigration law between August 1 and September 27 and is charged with one count of conspiring with other to commit a breach of immigration law. It involves four girls who are not EU citizens.
Mr Raza, of Brendan Avenue, is accused of being involved in an operation to smuggle illegal immigrants into the UK. He was arrested at his home in east Hull after an international investigation involving Humberside Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Dutch Military Police.
Detectives also raided Superstar hand car wash in Hedon Road and Posh hand car wash in Stoneferry Road. Video footage released by police shows the moment officers in the Netherlands stopped the van carrying the girls, who are aged from 16 to 18. Three men were also arrested in the Netherlands.
Police said the nationalities of the females, who are currently being dealt with by the Dutch authorities, are not known. Mr Raza has been remanded in custody.