20 Dec 2015

Brothers cleared of human trafficking charges

6:33 pm on 20 December 2015

Two brothers at the centre of New Zealand's first human trafficking case have been found not guilty.

Jaswinder Singh (right) and Satnam Singh (second from left), with two interpreters, at the High Court in Nelson on Monday 9 November.

In the High Court in Nelson, from left: an interpreter, Satnam Singh, another interpreter and Jaswinder Singh Sangha. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Jaswinder Singh Sangha and Satnam Singh were found not guilty in the High Court in Nelson on charges of arranging the entry of people to this country by deception, or trafficking.

They were the first such charges brought under the Immigration Act.

One of the brothers and another man, however, were found guilty of making false statements to Immigration New Zealand.

Jaswinder Singh Sangha's lawyer Ron Mansfield said it was never a case that warranted an allegation of human trafficking.

"We've always thought the allegation was too high. It was never really in the true sense a case of people trafficking; at best, it was an allegation that these people had been misled regarding the nature of the visa.

"They had visas - they just had seven-month limited purpose visas rather than what they claimed, namely two-year work visas."

Mr Mansfield said Jaswinder and another man were found guilty of 11 counts of supplying false statements to a refugee status officer.

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