Estonian citizen detained in Lithuania over alleged human trafficking

Lithuania's border with Latvia in a photo taken in 2020.
Lithuania's border with Latvia in a photo taken in 2020. Source: ERR

An Estonian national is being held by Lithuanian authorities under suspicion of human trafficking. The suspect allegedly acted as driver in transporting four people of Iraqi origin to cross the border into Lithuania, from Latvia, illegally.

If found guilty, the suspect may face a fine or up to six years' jail time, BNS reports.

The four individuals are migrants who had absconded from a facility in Lithuania, where they were staying, the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (Valstybės Sienos Apsaugos Tarnyba) says.

The migrants had been attempting to reach Germany, it is reported.

While both Latvia and Lithuania are in the EU and Schengen Area, migrants who had crossed into an EU state from Belarus during the ongoing crisis which started in summer are not permitted to enter another member state once registered and housed in the first EU country they arrived in.

Recent, similar cases have seen migrants entering Estonia from Latvia, returned to the latter.

The Pagėgiai Frontier District in Lithuania opened a pre-trial investigation into suspected unlawful transportation of persons across the state border Thursday, BNS reports.

The Estonian national involved, as well as the four individuals of Iraqi origin, were handed over to the border guards by police officers from Vilkaviškis District, itself close to the Lithuania-Poland border.

Lithuania's border guards said that the four Iraqi nationals were in turn to be handed back to their Latvian counterparts Friday.

Lithuania, Latvia and Poland share a border with Belarus and have borne the brunt of the migratory pressure and human trafficking instigated by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko since mid-summer, with Poland's border seeing the most activity more recently.

Estonia does not border with Belarus, but has been strengthening its eastern border with temporary obstructions such as razor wire.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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