Current Affairs Sham Czech brides face prison sentences in UK
A court in Sheffield in the UK has heard the case of 19 people, including a group of Czech and Slovak women – who were part of a sham marriage ring. Between 2009 and 2011, the gang paid the sham brides to fly to Pakistan where fake marriages were arranged for them so that their husbands could apply for UK visas. The court has found guilty seven members of the gang; another 11 are awaiting the verdict while the two main organizers are on the run. RP discussed the case with UK-based Czech journalist Jan Jůn.
“The whole group apparently comes from the Yorkshire town of Rotherham, which is close to Sheffield which is why the case has been taking place at the Sheffield Crown Court. The women’s role was to be paid to go to Pakistan, get married to Pakistani men who were interested in coming to the UK because as spouses of nationals of one EU country, they would be entitled to seek residence and later even citizenship in any EU country. This involved some 62 fraudulent visa applications.”
Some of the trials have already taken place so what sentences are the defendants facing?
“It’s not quite clear. The situation is that out of the whole group of 18 people, only seven of them have been found guilty at the trials. The actual accusation was that they were assisting in unlawful immigration to the UK which occurred between January 2009 and December 2011 so it wasn’t just a short stint of the group trying to commit these criminal acts.
“As to what they face, there could definitely be prison sentences; there is no way they would be let out. But as far as the length of the sentences – I think that in similar cases in the past, those were sentences of several years.”
The issue of illegal immigration is a sensitive one – has the case attracted a lot of attention in the UK and have there been calls to tighten the rules for immigrants, perhaps even from other EU countries?
“Well, as far as I am aware, the cases have not attracted that much attention. They have been mentioned in several daily newspapers but not in very prominent positions; only the Daily Mail did a longer feature on them. The problem is that the whole case has been kept under wraps for a long time by the British immigration authorities, apparently because there have been several other similar scams in the past and the authorities were worried that something else might be going on at the present moment somewhere else.”