Suitcase smuggler jailed for 16 months

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 2003, 12:00am

An Indian man, 22, yesterday was sentenced to 16 months in jail for smuggling a Pakistani deportee into Hong Kong inside a suitcase.

Kwun Tong Court found visitor Pardeep Singh guilty of one count of aiding and abetting a person to land in Hong Kong without permission.

The case first came to light when immigration officers discovered 24-year-old illegal immigrant Raja Kamran curled up inside a large suitcase during a luggage check at the border on December 26.

'[The defendant] was carrying with him a large piece of luggage. [When] he was required to undergo further inquiries . . . he denied that the luggage belonged to him. When the suitcase was opened a Pakistani national was found hiding inside,' an Immigration Department spokesman said.

The court heard that Singh met an Indian friend by coincidence at a duty-free shop and was asked to bring the large suitcase into Hong Kong.

Singh claimed he did not know that a man was inside. He said he had been told that the luggage contained 2,000 mobile phone batteries.

Last month, his Pakistani passenger was sentenced to 18 months in jail for breaching the deportation order and landing in Hong Kong without permission.

Prior to his illegal re-entry, Kamran was deported from Hong Kong for life on August 14 last year for reasons immigration officials refused to reveal.

The verdict comes after the South China Morning Post revealed that a smuggling syndicate has been taking illegal immigrants from India and Pakistan across the Lowu border from Shenzhen into Hong Kong for $500 a trip for the past 18 months.

There is no evidence that Singh's case has been the work of the syndicate, known as 'Mukha Airlines'.

People convicted of aiding and abetting a person to land in Hong Kong face a maximum fine of $25,000 and three years in jail.