Six men of Comorian origin were employed in different restaurants in the Principality with work permits they obtained using fake identity documents.
“I only wanted to work,” one of the defendants explained on the stand. Of the six men on trial in this case, only two were present at the hearing before Monaco’s Criminal Court on Tuesday 15 November 2022. Most of these foreigners, who are around 30 years old, worked between 2021 and 2022 in Monaco using fake identity documents or by assuming other people’s identity.
The word was out that it was relatively easy to find work in MonacoFlorestan Bellinzona, President of the Court
They sent money to their families back in the Comoros out of the salaries earned as dishwashers, kitchen assistants or commis de salle. With what was left, they subsisted in a Beausoleil flat “in quasi-squalid living conditions”, as the prosecutor put it, sleeping in bunk beds. All the defendants had clean Monegasque or French criminal records up until then.
A random police check
The subterfuge could have continued for a long time if one of them had not been stopped in the street by the police during a random check on 9 September. The officers quickly realised that the photo in the passport he handed over did not belong to the man in front of them. The subsequent search of his home on Boulevard de la Turbie in Beausoleil was the downfall of the other men there.
Today, one of them is no longer working and has begun to take the necessary steps to legalise his position, and the other is doing odd jobs in France. “He has legalised his situation in France and wants to do so in Monaco so he can continue working”, argues his lawyer Grégoire Gamerdinger. “The State does not intend to hound these individuals,” said barrister Hervé Campana. “It does consider itself a victim, however, because its trust has been betrayed, and this situation tarnishes the Principality’s security image.” For the non-material damages, therefore, the civil party claimed the token sum of 1 euro.
As for the employers, none of them filed a civil suit. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has expressed concerns about their responsibility.
Suspended prison sentence
According to the Prosecutor, “these men are victims of a network and of their place of birth, and their desire for a better life is clear”. The Public Prosecutor’s Office also points out that they did not dispute the facts. Nevertheless, the offences are well established, and the defendants’ explanations of how the identity papers were issued to them remain unclear. Since a fine “would not be appropriate”, the prosecutor’s office requested a suspended prison sentence of between 10 days and one month and the confiscation of the money found in the flat during the search, along with the administrative documents.
After deliberation, the court decided to accede to the prosecutor’s request and the culprits received a 10-day suspended prison sentence. It also granted the civil party’s request on the matter of the token euro as well as that of the defence lawyer not to have the conviction put on his client’s criminal record, so that it would not present “an obstacle to his future”.