A total of 46 Chinese illegal immigrants are expected to be repatriated from Malta after their identities are confirmed, a Chinese embassy official in the island country said on Sunday.
The immigrants were sent back to Malta by Italian police on Thursday, after they snuck into Italy from Malta in March.
The two countries have an agreement: When illegal immigrants are apprehended in either country and it is proved they originated from the other, they are returned to that country and then repatriated.
"These people have been initially confirmed as Chinese from East China's Fujian and Zhejiang provinces," said the embassy official yesterday in a phone interview with China Daily.
"They will be repatriated to China in accordance with related laws and regulations when they are finally identified," the official said.
Maltese police questioned the immigrants when they were returned to build a case against four men suspected of running the trips on March 3 and March 12.
The Chinese Embassy in Malta is in direct contact with local authorities to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the immigrants.
Now in Italy are another six Asian immigrants, suspected to be Chinese by local police, who will be returned to Malta later this month.
They are the survivors of the Pozzallo tragedy which took place on March 24 between Malta and Sicily in which six died and another three are still missing, though presumed dead by local police.
The people smugglers threw their passengers overboard to evade capture by police, local authorities said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Consulate in Manchester in the United Kingdom is still investigating the disappearance of three teenage Chinese girls.
No new information has come to light concerning their whereabouts.
The girls, Weng Meifang, 15, Lin Xiuming and He Yunjin, both 16, have been missing in Britain since March 30.
British police are currently trying to track down the girls, thought be from Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Source: China Daily