Five people – citizens of Azerbaijan, Poland, Iraq and Georgia – were detained in Lithuania over the weekend for unlawfully transporting 19 Iraqi migrants, the State Border Guard Service (VSAT) has reported.
Thirteen of the migrants were asylum seekers who fled Latvia. The remaining six Iraqis escaped the Refugee Reception Centre in Rukla, in the central district of Jonava.
Nine of the asylum seekers, who were not supposed to leave Latvia pending their asylum applications, travelled in two cars, driven by a Pole and an Azerbaijani citizen with a Polish residence permit. The vehicles, one with Russian number plates and the other with Polish plates, were stopped by the police in the northern district of Pasvalys on Saturday night.
The police have launched a pre-trial investigation against the Polish and Azerbaijani nationals for suspected unlawful transportation of persons across state border. A court has issued three-month arrest warrants for the two drivers.
The migrants were handed over to Latvian border guards on Sunday.
Two Iraqi citizens with Finnish residence were detained in the southern municipality in Marijampolė late on Sunday while transporting six undocumented migrants.
Border guards found out that the six passengers were Iraqi citizens from the Rukla centre, according to preliminary information.
A pre-trial investigation has also been launched against the drivers. They were questioned by border guards in the border town of Pagėgiai on Monday.
On Sunday evening, a car with Polish plates was stopped in the southwestern municipality of Kalvarija as it was about to enter Poland. Four Iraqi asylum seekers, who had unlawfully left Latvia, were in the car driven by a Georgian citizen.
Border guards took the driver and his passengers to the Kalvarija border station. The driver had a pre-trial investigation opened against them.