Chinese couple convicted of people smuggling

A Chinese couple have been jailed by a Stockholm court for smuggling 46 Chinese children through Sweden to unknown fates elsewhere in Europe.

The woman, 33, was sentenced to two years and three months and her partner, a 41-year old man, was sentenced to two years. Both were convicted of human trafficking, and were said by Stockholm district court to have had a significant role in a wider network trading in Chinese children and young people.

The woman was also convicted of planning human trafficking and several financial crimes. The pair had also been charged with organizing people smuggling, but were found not guilty.

The couple processed 46 children last year. They kept the children in a number of different locations while they were waiting to be sent to other destinations in Europe, where police believe the children were used for forced labour.

The pair fixed false passports for the children and paid for their flights to and from Sweden.

When the children left China they were given 10,000 Swedish kronor and a mobile phone.

They were instructed to tell authorities that they belonged to Falungong or

other movements banned in China, to apply for asylum and then escape.

To date, 97 children who have applied for asylum in Sweden have subsequently disappeared.

Police built their case on evidence from some of the children, flight tickets, false passports and transcripts of tapped phone calls.

TT/AFP/The Local