Syrian asylum seeker accused of child trafficking loses bid to appeal extradition

UK high court rejects Asad Al Jaban's attempt to avoid being sent to Belgium to face trial

Migrants hoping to board lorries at the Calais ferry terminal in France, trying to get to England. Photo: Reuters
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A Syrian asylum seeker who is accused of trafficking youngsters from Belgium to the UK has been refused leave to appeal his extradition.

Asad Al Jaban travelled to the UK in 2019 in the back of a lorry and successfully claimed asylum.

However, police in Belgium claim he is part of a gang of people smugglers who targeted children and put their lives at risk smuggling them to Britain in the back of lorries.

Allegedly he would meet them at a Brussels train station and demand money before taking them to a pick-up point.

He was arrested in London and ordered to be extradited.

After a fresh bid to appeal the extradition at London's High Court, Mr Justice Fordham said his case had “no real prospect of success”.

“In my judgment, this appeal has no realistic prospect of success. The starting point is that there is, in my judgment, no difficulty at all in the present case in identifying the essential substance of the cases against him,” he said.

“The offences are smuggling human beings by seriously endangering their life and doing so within the framework of a criminal organisation; doing so in the case of underaged persons (minors); and (through the same conduct) participating in a conspiracy to smuggle people.

“As to the alleged criminal conduct, what is being said is this. Individuals (adults, but also children) were being smuggled into the United Kingdom by a gang who facilitated their perilous passage hidden in lorries, in return for money.

“Those individuals would arrive at Brussels North train station where they would encounter a member of the criminal gang who would guide them by telling them how to get to the lorry pick-up point or accompanying them there. Money was collected.

“The appellant acted as a facilitator. He encountered individuals at the train station and guided or accompanied them to the location. He received payments. He passed on money collected to the gang ringleader. Mobile phone locational information and intercept evidence put him in contact with the ringleader and place him at Brussels North train station and at the pick-up point, on a series of identified specific dates.

“In all the circumstances and for these reasons, the application for permission to appeal is refused.”

Mr Al Jaban arrived in a lorry on June 22, 2019, and claimed asylum, which was granted in December 2019.

Belgium wants him to stand trial on charges of people trafficking as an alleged active member of a criminal gang.

He denies the charges, claiming he became caught up with the gang and in people trafficking, but only as a victim.

He will now be sent to Belgium for trial.

Updated: September 21, 2022, 11:38 AM