Two in court over human trafficking

Published Tuesday, 19 August 2014
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Two Romanian men have appeared in court in Lisburn charged with multiple offences including human trafficking and labour exploitation.

In court on Tuesday was Samuil Covaci, who is 23 with an address at Charles Street in Portadown, and Ioan Lacatus, a 31-year-old father-of-three living at Hanover Street in the town.

The pair have been charged with 12 human trafficking offences, 12 forced labour offences and acting as an unlicensed gang-masters.

A detective told the court that he believed he could connect the two to the charges.

They were remanded in custody to re-appear by videolink at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on 29 August.

The charges come after 20 suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued by police in Co Armagh on Monday.

Fourteen men and six women who are also Romanian - aged between the ages of 20 and 48 - were brought to safety from two locations during the past week.

PSNI officers have been working alongside the Gangmaster Licensing Authority, the UK Human Trafficking Centre and other agencies, in what they described as a "fast-moving and complex operation".

They have also called in extra translators from England to help gather information from those rescued.

Acting for Lacatus, defence solicitor Paul McCann said his client had denied all charges against him during police interviews.

"In making those denials he gave police several lines of inquiry which we will say point away from his culpability," said Mr McCann.

A third man, who is 27, also arrested as part of the operation, remains in police custody for questioning.

© UTV News
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