Study harder next time
Fraudulent students headed to Iqaluit now in Copenhagen jail

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 17/97) - A group of fake Asian immigrants heading for Iqaluit last week is now in custody in Copenhagen.

Police say 21 people from Asian countries were pulled off a First Air flight in Sondestrom, Greenland, last Friday after airline officials became suspicious and alerted authorities.

The group claimed to be student tourists, but the individuals were found to be travelling under false passports, said Cpl. Lindsey Brine of the Iqaluit RCMP detachment.

"This certainly is strange," he said last week. "Thank goodness for the co-operation of First Air or we would have had quite a problem on our hands."

Police and immigration officials are not sure why the group was travelling to Canada, but it may have been to claim refugee status.

Several refugee claimants have arrived in Iqaluit since First Air opened its Iqaluit-Greenland-Copenhagen route, most recently in the summer when two Sri Lankan nationals claimed refugee status after arriving in Canada.

While most illegal immigrants wind up in southern airports or come ashore on the east or west coasts by boat, the Iqaluit airport and the new First Air route grant a northerly entrance to travellers, both legitimate and fraudulent, the officer noted.

"It certainly opens up another route that could be used for that purpose," Brine noted.

He said it does not appear that the group was travelling non-stop from their countries of origin, but that they had made several stops en route. Copenhagen was the last place where the group could be pinpointed, he said, and the 21 are now in custody in Denmark.

Authorities in Canada and Denmark are investigating where the group went after leaving Asia and why they were planning on coming to Canada, Brine said.

Officials with Immigration Canada are also involved in the investigation.