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Afrim Xhekaliu, of Barnet, in court after rescue of nine people in suspected migrant case

By Sam Lennon

One man has been charged following the rescue of nine suspected migrants from an inflatable boat off the Kent coast.

Afrim Xhekaliu, 40, of Leicester Road, Barnet, London, who was on the boat, has been charged with assisting illegal entry.

He is due to appear via video link at Brighton Magistrates Court today.

One man is in court following the sea rescue. Library image
One man is in court following the sea rescue. Library image

He was one of three people arrested after the rescue involving Dungeness RNLI on Wednesday.

No further action has been taken against a second arrested man, who was also on board the boat. He is now being dealt with by immigration enforcement.

The third man arrested by National Crime Agency officers in Crawley on Wednesday night was questioned, and has been released under investigation.

It follows a search and rescue operation involving the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the RNLI, Border Force and the NCA off the coast on the Kent and East Sussex border.

A rigid hull inflatable boat, carrying eight men and one woman, was eventually found and those on board taken by lifeboat to Eastbourne harbour.

Six men and the woman, all believed to be Albanian nationals, are being dealt with by Border Force, while the two other men, also believed to be Albanian, were questioned by the NCA.

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