Monday, April 21, 2008

Former Pakistani Minister Detained for Trafficking

From the Earth Times:

Islamabad - Pakistani authorities arrested a former government minister Saturday for allegedly smuggling about two dozen people into Germany and other European countries, officials said.

Police detained former minister for religious affairs Mushtaq Victor after a pre-dawn raid at his home in Islamabad. He will be held for seven days while they investigate the case.

"The action was taken on a complaint from the Norwegian Embassy that the minister had used official recommendation letters to illegally send people aboard," Omar Hyyat, an investigator with the Federal Investigation Agency told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa. "The former minister sent at least 23 people, including three women, to Germany, the UK, Austria, Italy and Canada," he said.

Victor, a Catholic, used his position as minister to prepare fake identity cards where he would register himself as husband, father or brother of those he wanted to smuggle, Hyyat said, adding he would then request the concerning embassy to issue visas for his family members. The former minister sent one woman and five children to Germany by pretending they were his wife and children.

In another instance in late 2007 Victor requested visas for 20 people on the pretension that the group wanted to see the new Pope in Rome. The Italian embassy issued visas to 10 of them, including Victor, but eight were deported back to Pakistan after a short time in Italy.

The FIA first learned of what Victor was doing in August 2006 when he was a member of President Pervez Musharraf's cabinet, but took no action because of pressure from the government. He quit his post following the dissolution of parliament last December.

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