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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 13:53 GMT
Sham marriage network gang jailed
Ibrahim Hafiji and his bride
Twenty-five people were jailed for their role in the fake marriages
Twenty five people who took part in a sham marriage network based in Leicester have been jailed for a total of 35 years.

Ringleaders Salim Mullan, 50, from Leicester and Ibrahim Umarji, 66, from East Ham, London, admitted helping illegal immigrants enter the country.

Leicester Crown Court heard the ceremonies were set up in an attempt to beat the UK immigration system.

They were both jailed for four years for their roles in the racket.

Another woman was also given a suspended sentence.

It was cheating and it prejudiced genuine candidates
Judge Simon Hammond

Mullan's wife, Jahara, was jailed for one year after pleading guilty to money laundering.

The court heard she had nearly 80,000 in two bank accounts.

One of the bogus brides connected with the case married as many as six men over a five-year period.

Sentencing the 26 defendants on Monday, Judge Simon Hammond said: "Clearly this was a well-planned and sophisticated operation involving recruitment of stooges in this country.

"It was a team job requiring different roles. Everyone knew that what they were doing was unlawful.

"It was cheating and it prejudiced genuine candidates.

Ibrahim Umarji
Ibrahim Umarji admitted helping illegal immigrants enter the UK

"The sentence must reflect the public need to deter others in what was for some a very lucrative scam.

"The motive for the UK citizens was money and for the Indian nationals was entry into the UK and to remain in the UK."

Fourteen of the defendants jailed were women, many single mothers who had been put under financial stress or were pressured by the ringleaders to go through with the bogus ceremonies.

Of Umerji, he said: "He was an important player in this case. He was a respected elder in his community and he abused that status."

A total of 36 weddings took place, with some taking place in England and some in India.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the marriage scam was exposed



SEE ALSO:
Marriage-scam men face sentencing
12 Jan 05 |  Leicestershire


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