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Frenchman admits smuggling illegal migrants into Britain

The 20-year-old son of a French local councillor has pleaded guilty in a British court to helping smuggle Vietnamese migrants into Britain in Oct. 2009. His mother, a councillor in a commune south-east of Paris, is due to enter her plea on Wednesday.


AFP - The son of a French councillor pleaded guilty Monday to helping smuggle 16 Vietnamese immigrants into Britain.

Benjamin Chocat, 20, from Choisy-Le-Roi south of Paris, appeared in court in Portsmouth, southern England, charged with concealing the immigrants inside a vehicle which arrived on board a ferry from France on October 1 last year.

His mother Christiane Chocat, 51, a councillor in Lumigny-Nesles-Ormeaux southeast of Paris, appeared on the same charges. She is due to enter her plea at a court hearing on Wednesday.

Benjamin Chocat will be sentenced on January 29.

The pair are accused of bringing over 13 men and three women in a hire van on a ferry from Cherbourg in France to Portsmouth, hidden behind boxes of shrimp noodles.

They were arrested as they got off the ferry and the immigrants were returned to France that night.

Chocat and his mother were both charged with assisting unlawful entry into a European Union member state under the Immigration Act 1971.

The maximum penalty for helping illegal immigration is 14 years in prison, but this kind of crime usually attracts a sentence of between 18 and 30 months.

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