File Photo: Irregular migrant boat off coast in Egypt’s Kafr Sheikh after their foiled attempt to illegally migrate to Europe via the Mediterranean (Photo: Ahram)
A Cairo Criminal Court handed 10-year prison terms on Saturday to four defendants in absentia over smuggling migrants to the United Kingdom.
According to the referral decision, a Syrian-British citizen had established and led an organised group aiming at trafficking migrants from Egypt to countries abroad.
The group also included three other defendants, including an Algerian who was tasked along with another man on issuing fake passports and IDs for the migrants.
The sentence is not final and can still be appealed by the defendants when they are present before a court of law.
Since a 2016 boat disaster killed dozens of migrants, including Egyptians, Egypt has been strengthening efforts to combat irregular migration to Europe through a new law that imposes harsher penalties on traffickers.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has spoken on multiple occasions about Egypt's ongoing efforts to curb illegal immigration from its shores to Europe; a key concern for European countries facing a growing migrant crisis.