Contrary to the word of some 21 illegal immigrants who named him as the person who smuggled them into the British Virgin Islands, Luc Eloi has declared that he was just another boat passenger on the day in question.
That was his reason for opting to contest the charges for which he is before the Magistrate’s Court.
Pointing to the fact that the ‘other passengers’ were released and repatriated, Eloi pleaded not guilty to the charges of smuggling illegal immigrants and landing without leave from an immigration officer.
He also pleaded not guilty to possession of proceeds of criminal conduct, which is said to be the $1,400 that police allegedly recovered from him.
The prosecution is alleging that Eloi collected the money to smuggle the illegal immigrants into the territory.
The accused however argued in court that he worked for the money, and so it belongs to him. He will stand trial on September 22.
It is alleged that, about 11:45 on the morning of April 10 this year, law enforcement officers found a group of illegal immigrants on Virgin Gorda.
The officers travelled to Major Bay on Tortola where they discovered a blue vessel, which they suspected was used to transport the immigrants into the territory.
Moments later, they nabbed the accused Haitian, Eloi, who allegedly was carrying $1,400 cash.
He reportedly told police that he was picked up in St Maarten and transported to the BVI.
Eloi subsequently was arrested on suspicion of illegal entry. The court heard that police later visited Her Majesty’s Prison and Maria’s by the Sea hotel, where they spoke with some of the illegal immigrants.
Those immigrants gave detailed descriptions of the persons who transported them into the BVI.
Eloi, the accused, was identified as the co-captain of the vessel in question, while a ‘Mr Potter’ was said to be the captain. Potter was not located.
Authorities conducted a subsequent identification parade, and Eloi was positively identified.
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