Subject: LUSA: Two Sri Lankans detained on suspicion of people trafficking

06-08-2002 11:27:00. Notícia nº 3974872 Temas: new destaque2

East Timor: Two Sri Lankans detained on suspicion of people trafficking

Police have detained two Sri Lankan men in Dili on "strong" suspicion they were working as an advance team for an illegal immigration network apparently linked to the arrival in East Timor of a freighter loaded with Sri Lankans allegedly headed to New Zealand.

UN police spokesman Antonio Silva told Lusa Tuesday that the two suspects were detained Thursday.

Word of their detention, he added, was withheld to avoid complicating investigations into the arrival in Dili July 28 of the Sri Lankan vessel "Cey Nor", carrying 58 Sri Lankan men.

Silva said there were "strong indications" the two men, whom he did not identify, were members of "a network dedicated to trafficking illegal immigrants to several countries".

The suspects, he added, had arrived in Dili ahead of the Cey Nor apparently to arrange supplies of fuel, water and food for the vessel to continue on to New Zealand.

In contrast to the initial perception that the 15-meter vessel had arrived in Dili by chance, Silva said authorities now believed the ship, which had been at sea for about one month, had followed a "pre-established route".

After initially refusing the would-be immigrants permission to land, authorities allowed the group ashore Friday, taking them to a transit camp under the care of the UN High Commission for Refugees.

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

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