The survivors of last week’s deadly human smuggling venture were yesterday handed over to the Department of Immigration for repatriation.
The 18 Haitians — 17 men and one woman — were rescued after the boat that was carrying them sank near Abaco on February 2.
They were charged with illegal landing before Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux, two days after 22 of their compatriots who died in the accident were buried in a mass service on New Providence.
Nine others were buried in Abaco due to the state of decomposition. Scores of others who were reportedly on the boat are still missing.
Speaking through an interpreter, the survivors told the magistrate: “We were looking for a better life.”
Turnquest-Deveaux thanked them for their early plea of guilt and turned them over to immigration officials for processing.
Two Dominicans who tried to enter the country with fraudulent Bahamian visas appeared in the same court and were sentenced to one year in prison.
Yeison Reyes, 21, and Julio Mejia, 36, arrived at Lynden Pindling International Airport from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands on February 7.
They were refused landing after immigration officers were suspicious about the visas and work permits in their possession, the court heard.
The men pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a forged document in respect of the visas, and possession of a forged document in relation to the work permits.
Turnquest-Deveaux fined each defendant $2,000 or one year in prison. They were sent to prison as the fines were not paid, but they will be released once the fines are paid.
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