Cyprus Mail

Further remands in sham marriages investigation (updated)

A 26-year-old Bangladeshi man and four Bulgarian women were remanded on Tuesday for three days in connection with an ongoing investigation into sham marriages involving third country and EU nationals.

The offences were committed between February 3 and July 29 in Larnaca and Nicosia.

The four women were located last Friday by officers at a Larnaca flat. The women told police that because of their bad financial situation, they had agreed to come to Cyprus and get married to unknown individuals for €1,000. The transaction was facilitated by a female compatriot who lives in Bulgaria, and against whom police issued an arrest warrant.

According to police, one of the women told them she had been approached by a woman in Bulgaria around two weeks ago, and offered her and her sister €2,000 each to come to Cyprus to conduct a sham marriage.

The 26-year-old man, who was located by officers at the Larnaca flat on Monday, told police he married the wanted Bulgarian woman in April.

Four other men aged 21, 22, and 31, also from Bangladesh, were detained by the authorities last week and were remanded for six days.

The 26-year-old told police, court heard, he paid €4,000 to the 22-year-old and 31-year-old to arrange for him to marry a European citizen. They brought him into contact with the wanted Bulgarian woman, whom he married at the Aradippou town hall.

The four women were initially taken to a shelter for victims of human trafficking, police told court, but following further questioning, it emerged they were not victims, but were participating in the commitment of the investigated offences and they were arrested on Monday.

The police investigator told court that this appears to be a very well-organised ring which arranges sham marriages between Europeans and third-country nationals, in order for the latter to remain legally in the Republic.

He added that police are expanding investigations in municipalities which officiate civil marriages to discover whether there have been marriages between Europeans and third-country nationals, and scrutinise these cases to find out whether the aim was a permanent stay in the Republic.

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