7 Nov 2005

Court appearance for two over alleged people smuggling racket in Fiji

8:04 pm on 7 November 2005

An Australian national and an Indian citizen arrested in connection with a people smuggling racket in Fiji have appeared in the Nadi magistrate's court.

Australian Reginald Constantine, formerly of Sri Lanka, is charged with official corruption and smuggling immigrants using fraudulent documents.

Sanjay Patel of India is charged with possession of false documents for carrying a fake Singaporean passport.

Constantine is alleged to have offered a customs officer US$180 to assist Patel get on a flight from Nadi to Vancouver in Canada using the false passport.

The two have been remanded in custody till Friday, November 11th.

Meanwhile, Radio Legend says the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority, which now has responsibility for border control. has raised concern the people smuggling racket discovered at the weekend could be just the tip of the iceberg.

The Authority's chief executive, Tevita Banuve, says during the transfer of border control from the Immigration Department to the Authority, it was estimated that there could be thousands of illegal immigrants in the country.

He says they have yet to determine the whereabouts of these people and some could have been smuggled out without being detected.