Honduras charges five Syrians with falsifying documents

Honduras judge orders five Syrians who entered country illegally to face charges of falsifying documents

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Four of the five Syrians arrested are seen through a window as they listen to a judge in a court room in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on November 20, 2015

A judge in Honduras on Tuesday ruled five Syrians caught traveling with fake Greek passports as they were heading to the United States will be charged with falsifying documents.

Judicial spokeswoman Barbara Castillo said the judge decided that the five men, who requested to be granted refugee status, must remain behind bars while awaiting trial.

"The judge has ruled that they must face charges of falsification of documents and they must stay in prison," she said.

The five Syrians were caught and detained last week as they were traveling to reach the US with fake Greek passports, triggering an alarm following the Paris attacks conducted by Syria-linked DAESH terrorists.

They were arrested after Greek officials were called to the Toncontin Airport in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa and found that the five men could not speak any Greek.

“We received information from [fellow] police services that these five Syrians left Greece and passed through Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and San Jose in Costa Rica before finally reaching Tegucigalpa,” police spokesman Anibal Baca said that they were planning to travel Guatemala.

According to the US sources, the men, aged 19 to 30, got fake passports in Brazil.

Honduran police realised shortly after that there were no signs that the men had any links to any militant or terrorist groups.

The five Syrians arrested for entering Honduras illegally with fake Greek passports requested asylum, Honduran officials said on Monday.

Two of five Syrian citizens arrested while trying to enter the country with forged passports are driven to court in Tegucigalpa on November 24, 2015 (AFP)

Honduran Minister for Human Rights Rigoberto Chang Castillo said on Monday that the five men asked for asylum "because their lives were at risk in their home country."

In response to their request, the minister said they would consider their demand even if the five men were charged with falsifying official documents.

A court will decide whether they will face trial or not later on Tuesday.

Increase in detentions in Latin America last week has exposed what could be a larger trend of Syrians heading with fake Greek passports far from traditional routes out of their country.

The detentions raised concerns among US lawmakers after it was suggested that at least one of the attackers involved in the deadly attacks in Paris last week may have entered Europe among refugees registered in Greece.

A spokesman for the country's Inter-institutional Security Force, Lieutenant Colonel Santos Nolasco said that unauthorised refugees or asylum seekers have been using Honduras through their way to the US.

This year, 12,600 foreigners were intercepted as they were illegally entering Honduras, almost all of them trying to reach the US, Nolasco said. Those detained by authorities include citizens of Somalia, Iran, Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Togo, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, as well as Latin American countries.

TRTWorld and agencies