A suspected high-ranking member of the international human trafficking gang has lost a battle against extradition from Britain to Germany where he will be tried on charges of smuggling hundreds of Middle Eastern migrants into Europe.
British citizen Rayhan Shirnakhy faces 27 criminal charges after migrants from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria, who each paid up to 20,000 euros, were transferred by truck across Europe to Germany, according to British court documents.
Shirnakhy is accused of being responsible for recruiting truck drivers, arranging pickups and negotiating payments to drivers.
He was arrested last year in Britain along with a second British citizen, Jamal Hosseinali, who was accused of securing fake visas for migrants to get asylum in Germany. English courts hear that migrants are sometimes lied to about the reasons they can use to apply for asylum.
The men appear to be connected to organized crime gangs that were dispersed by police during a coordinated pan-European operation on November 13 last year.
Officials in Germany, Romania, Britain and Turkey are investigating the role of 36 people accused of smuggling at least 580 migrants who generated more than € 2 million, according to Eurojust, a body that connects prosecutors in 27 EU countries.
Migrants travel from their home countries via Turkey and Greece to Romania where they are loaded into containers. The truck then took them to Germany via Hungary and the Czech Republic, Eurojust said.
During a coordinated police movement, police ransacked homes and arrested five people in Romania and Greece. They also confiscated telephones, computers and bank records. Turkish police also arrested 14 people.
Four drivers were jailed in Germany for up to five years. Eurojust said “the main organizer” was arrested in London and his extradition was sought. Eurojust refuses to confirm that this is Mr. Shirnakhy.
Lawyers for Mr Shirnakhy and the Office of the Public Prosecutor for Weiden in der Oberpfalz, Germany, who led the investigation, could not be immediately contacted for comment.
A British judge ruled in September that the two men should be extradited to Germany but they appealed against the ruling.
Shirnakhy’s lawyer claimed that local level officials in Weiden in der Oberpfalz did not have the authority to seek his extradition. Mr Hosseinali said that his extradition was “unfair” and “oppressive” because of his moderate depression and claimed to have attempted suicide, the court was told.
Mr Hosseinali said that he had taken a drug overdose in 2013 when he was divorced and in 2018 when his girlfriend was arrested in Iran, the court heard.
Two High Court judges rejected an appeal on Wednesday.
Defendants who were unsuccessful with appeals against extradition will be deported within 10 days or on a later agreed date between the two countries, according to official guidelines.
Updated: May 7 2020 5:29
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