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Faced with remand, migrant teenager flees to Spain, court hears

A Moroccan migrant teenager in care is believed to have crossed clandestinely into Spain, hours after learning that officials here believed he was older than he originally claimed and would seek his remand in prison.

The boy had claimed he was a juvenile but officials later concluded he was 18 years old.

Faced with the prospect of being remanded at Windmill Hill prison until his case was resolved, he instead appears to have fled into Spain, the juvenile court heard yesterday.

The case once again puts into sharp relief the challenge faced by authorities in Gibraltar when dealing with complex cases involving migrants, many of them juveniles, who cross the Strait of Gibraltar in search of a better life.

The teenager, one of a group of migrants rescued at sea earlier this year, had been bailed into the care of the Care Agency in order to avoid him having to wait in prison.

But after his age was re-assessed, Care Agency said it was no longer able to look after him. The Crown then applied to have his bail rescinded, effectively seeking for him to be sent back to HM Windmill Prison.

Yesterday his lawyer, Patrick Canessa, told the juvenile court that a carer had told him his client may have now crossed into Spain.

If that is confirmed, the teenager would be the third juvenile in the group of migrants to have crossed the border clandestinely.

The court heard earlier this month that two other juveniles in care had last been seen walking toward the border fence near eastern beach and were also believed to have crossed into Spain.

This was the latest twist in a case stemming from a maritime rescue at night last July.


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