Fake passports put 15 in jail
Fifteen mainlanders were jailed yesterday for using bogus Chinese passports.
Aged between 17 and 36, they were among 21 arrested on arrival from Wuzhou at China Ferry Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, last Thursday.
Fourteen of them each received 12-month sentences for using unlawfully obtained travel documents and another 12 months for making false representation to an immigration officer.
They admitted the offences in Western Court and will serve their sentences concurrently.
A 17-year-old boy, who also pleaded guilty to the offences, was sentenced to nine months on each charge.
The cases for the remaining six defendants, who deny the charges, will be heard this morning.
The Immigration Department said the defendants had paid snakeheads up to 120,000 yuan (HK$112,160) for the documents. Several of the defendants were heading for Turkey to seek employment.
Another 20 mainlanders arrested at the terminal with forged passports on Saturday will also be brought before Western Magistracy today.
The defendants face maximum penalties of a $150,000 fine and 14 years' prison.
The department said the number of forged passports detected last year was 3,192, up from 2,660 in 1995. More than 1,850 have been detected so far this year.