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Remand for suspected people smuggler on boat with 143 refugees (Updated)

File photo: previous refugee arrivals

A BOAT carrying 143 Syrian migrants which set off from Turkey on Saturday was towed by police into Latchi port in the early hours of Monday morning while a suspected people smuggler has been remanded.

Paphos police spokesman Michalis Ioannou told the Cyprus Mail that as soon as they entered Cyprus’ waters the port police approached the vessel, the Mersina, at around 1am and towed them to the port of Latchi.

“The boat held 143 people, 62 are men, 31 women and 50 children under the age of 18,” he said.

He added that at 10.10am on Monday, police arrested a 29-year-old Syrian man, the boats’ captain who was given an eight-day remand from the court, he said.

“He received two thousand dollars from each of these people,” he said.

In addition, seven of the migrants were found to have previously been deported from Cyprus and will appear in court on Tuesday to face charges, he said.

Three of the women are pregnant and were taken to Polis Chrysochous hospital for first aid treatment along with one of the men, who all complained of feeling unwell. Ioannou said that all received treatment and were taken back to the police station.

Food and other supplies were provided for the group and a number of welfare organisations attended the station to provide support.

Ioannou said that the refugees were then taken to the Kokkinotrimithia reception centre in Nicosia.

“They have been taken to the hospitality centre close to Nicosia and I believe some of them have relatives in Cyprus and want to stay here, whist other want to go to other EU countries. They will now make their applications and it’s up to the immigration office, as police, this is not our job,” he said.

Meanwhile, authorities in Polis Chrusochous said they didn’t want to comment on the latest incident, as it will mean highlighting the area and they don’t want to encourage more refugees to make such journeys.

On July 7, a boat with 85 Syrian migrants landed at Paradise beach in Pomos, Paphos after departing from Turkey carrying 64 men, nine women and 12 children

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