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Three Punjabis convicted in UK sham marriage case

A UK court has convicted seven accused including three Punjabis for trying to cheat immigration rules by staging two fake marriages in Wrexham last year.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2012 20:11 IST
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Hindustan Times

A UK court has convicted seven accused including three Punjabis for trying to cheat immigration rules by staging two sham marriages in Wrexham last year.

Dave Offside, UK Border Agency (UKBA) official, said that the accused admitted a charge of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration laws and were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on January 31.

He said that the UKBA Officers arrested two Indian men and their Lithuanian 'brides' at Wrexham Register Office on August 30, 2011 before the ceremonies could take place.

They also arrested two more Lithuanian men and a UK national of Punjabi origin, who were also in the wedding party. The convicted persons were based in Wolverhampton.

Manpreet Singh (27) was awarded one year sentence while his "bride" Andrej Stepanov (28) was ordered to undergo sentence for 16 months. Similarly, Jasbir Singh (21) was ordered to serve 11 months sentence whereas his "bride" Sandra Beleckaite (21) would serve 304 days in jail.

Jaspal Singh Sahota (51), a UK national Sahota was punished with 26 months imprisonment while Lithuanian nationals Oskana Alexsandraviciute (37), awarded 304 days in jail, and Antannas Beleckas (27), who will serve 15 months imprisonment, were also convicted for arranging the fake marriages.

Under questioning at Wrexham police station, both the couples initially claimed their relationships were genuine despite not knowing many personal details about each other or speaking a common language.

Offside said that a sham marriage typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area, or the UK, as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in this country.

In this case, he said, Manpreet Singh's visa was due to expire in September 2011, shortly after the planned wedding. the other "groom" Jasbir Singh was in UK illegally after his visa expired earlier in August 2011. "We will take steps to remove them from the UK at the end of their jail terms," Offside said.

"The two grooms in this case saw sham marriage as a potential shortcut to a life in the UK, but they have ended up behind bars. The brides were prepared to marry people they barely know in exchange for cash and the others involved also stood to gain financially. We are cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face jail," he said.

"A marriage certificate alone does not give foreign nationals the right to live and work in the UK. Their relationship has to be genuine and they are still required to apply to us providing evidence to support this. If it is not, they face prosecution or deportation,” Offside added.

First Published: Feb 03, 2012 19:31 IST