A SYRIAN migrant who was awarded British citizenship has been jailed for flying one of his countrymen into the UK illegally.
Judge Peter Johnson told Ammar Khalifa he had deliberately breached Britain’s vital border controls by bringing in Ebrahim Hamad.
Khalifa, 49, flew the refugee in from Cherbourg, France, to Bournemouth, in a light aircraft after meeting him at a café, a court heard.
He claimed Mr Hamad – who was later granted asylum – only told him he was illegal as the plane prepared to land.
But Judge Johnson gave Khalifa a three-and-a-half year sentence after he was convicted of assisting unlawful immigration.
He said: “It is essential we maintain control of our borders and your actions deliberately circumvented those controls.
“Your role was pivotal, without you this enterprise simply wouldn’t have taken place and such offences attract severe sentences.”
Bournemouth Crown Court heard last Friday that Khalifa came to Britain in the 1980s to study English, was eventually given British nationality, and has worked in restaurants offices and laundries.
The amateur pilot now lives with his wife, two children and three stepchildren in Burton, near Christchurch, Dorset.
His passenger left Syria last year amid the country’s bloody turmoil and travelled through Turkey, Greece and France, before meeting the defendant in January.
He has since been granted political asylum in the UK and is working as an assistant manager at a hotel in Bournemouth.
Khalifa said the refugee claimed he wanted to reach England to see a sick relative and convinced him he was legal by showing him a French identification card.
He said Mr Hamad only admitted to being illegal 20 minutes away from landing at Bournemouth Airport.
Leslie Smith, defending, said: “Mr Khalifa has lost 18 family members in Syria since the conflict began, the youngest was 16.
“Mr Hamad left Syria because he didn’t want to kill anyone. He said if he didn’t join the government forces under conscription he would be killed and if he didn’t join the anti-government forces he would be killed.”
Mr Smith claimedthe incident was a “one-off” which Khalifa did not make any money from.
“Mr Khalifa has said ‘I put my hands up, I have done something wrong, I have neglected my duties as a UK citizen.’”
source: Daily Express