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Cyprus

Three boats with irregular migrants, five held for people smuggling (update 2)

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Five men were remanded for eight days on Monday after being arrested as suspected people traffickers the previous day.

The five suspects, aged between 19 and 38, were arrested in the Famagusta district on Sunday after 62 irregular migrants were brought to shore at Cape Greco and later taken to Pournara reception centre for asylum seekers.

The first boat was spotted 14 nautical miles off Cape Greco in the Famagusta district at around 3.30pm on Sunday.

The coastguard sent a vessel to the area, finally locating it 14 nautical miles east of Cape Greco. On the boat there were 19 men, three women and four minors.

The second vessel was spotted two hours later. It was carrying 36 people, of which 26 were men, three women and seven minors.

The five suspects were taken by the coastguard to Ayia Napa marina, where testimony emerged against them from the people aboard the boats, who identified them as people traffickers.

They appeared before the Famagusta district court on Monday, where their eight-day remand was ordered.

They are facing being charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, human trafficking, and human trafficking for profit.

Meanwhile, a third boat is believed to have brought another 30 irregular migrants to Cyprus, this time in the Paphos area.

Local residents spotted 30 people suspected of being illegal migrants walking near Peyia at 5.30am on Monday.

Police patrols were immediately dispatched and officers confirmed they are 30 undocumented Syrian nationals who allegedly made their way to Cyprus by sea.

The migrants were all take to the closest police station to be questioned, Paphos police spokesman Michalis Nicolaou said, adding that investigations to identify a people trafficker among them are ongoing.

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