Language barrier for sham wedding pair

Published Monday, 26 November 2012
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A Bangladeshi man and a Portuguese woman, who were married for over four years, could not speak a common language when questioned by immigration officers.

Language barrier for sham wedding pair
The woman has returned to Portugal, while the man is being deported. (© UTV)

They have been convicted of trying to cheat UK immigration rules after taking part in a sham marriage in the Republic of Ireland.

Vaskar Khan, 44, was arrested at an address on Carlton Street, Portadown, Co Armagh in February by UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers acting on intelligence.

Passports, bank cards, and two false Portuguese identity cards were also found and seized during a search of the premises.

Mr Khan and his wife Monica Fernandez Batalha, 31, were interviewed by UKBA officers on 24 February.

During the process, it became clear that they did not speak a common language - despite more than four years of marriage.

Airline tickets were also discovered which showed Ms Batalha, who lives in Portugal, had only flown back to the UK on 20 February - just days before the pair's interview with officers.

She later admitted that she had received £3,000 to marry Khan and that the ceremony took place in the Republic of Ireland.

On Friday, at Craigavon Crown Court, Mr Khan was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment for seeking to obtain leave to remain in the UK by deception and two charges of possessing false identity cards.

However, having been on remand since his arrest earlier this year, Mr Khan was released into UKBA detention while steps are taken to remove him from the country.

Ms Batalha was sentenced to 15 months, suspended for three years, for assisting unlawful immigration and has now returned to Portugal.

Earl Aiken, senior criminal investigator for the UK Border Agency, said after the sentencing:"This case shows how people are prepared to enter into a marriage with someone they barely know to help them cheat the immigration system.

"The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face prosecution and conviction - even where the marriage ceremony has occurred in another country."

© UTV News
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