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EXCLUSIVE: Albanians found on fishing boat off Great Yarmouth bailed by court due to no interpreters

AT LEAST 25 Albanian nationals who were among 72 illegal immigrants found on a fishing boat off the coast near Great Yarmouth on Tuesday evening have been released on unconditional bail.

The men aged between 19 and 52 appeared at magistrates' courts in Colchester and Basildon on Friday to face charges of entering the UK illegally.

However, the cases had to be adjourned as no Albanian interpreters were available.

Colchester Magistrates' Court heard 14 cases and in each one they were released on conditional bail to return at later dates to enter their pleas.

The same happened at Basildon Magistrates' Court which heard 11 of the cases.

The court heard the men may be treated as victims of modern-day slavery.

Law enforcement agencies arrested all 72 people on board the 30m fishing vessel (pictured above) which had sailed from the Ostend area of Belgium.

Border Force cutters intercepted the boat off Great Yarmouth and took it under control late on Tuesday, before escorting the vessel into Harwich harbour in the early hours of the following morning. Seven of the Albanian men also appeared before Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with knowingly entering the United Kingdom without leave, under the Immigration Act 1971. Ledjan Lleshi, 29, Eneert Vezi, 29, Ergi Gremi, 23, Erest Gjika, 19, and Kristian Paplekaj, 27, appeared on video link from a police station and entered guilty pleas to the charges. Prosecutor Colette Harper said: “The vessel was attempting to enter the UK unnoticed when it was intercepted.” David Allan, representing the five as duty solicitor, said all accepted intending to enter the country unlawfully, without an appropriate visa, due to “economic and financial circumstances resulting in fairly extreme hardship”. He said: "I urge you to take a pragmatic view and impose the minimum sentence possible to avoid overburdening the prison service.” But, all five men were sentenced to eight-week custodial sentences. Two other men, aged 35 and 27, entered no pleas and were released on bail to an immigration facility until a future hearing. The remaining men are being dealt with at other courts. Three crew members from the boat have been charged with people smuggling offences. Igor Kosyi, 56, and Volodymyr Mykhailov, 48, both from Ukraine, and Aleksandrs Gulpe, 43, from Latvia, appeared at Colchester Magistrates Court on Thursday and were remanded in custody.


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