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Germany

Ukrainian 'People Smuggler' Fined

A Ukrainian man was fined by a German court on Monday for helping 200 illegal immigrants to enter Germany after criteria for issuing tourist visas were relaxed. The 33-year-old man was ordered to pay a fine of 7,200 euros ($9,240) by a court in Cologne. In their verdict, the judges said he had exploited the loopholes created by the German foreign ministry when it changed its rules for issuing tourist visas in the late 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of eastern Europeans, mainly from Ukraine, are believed to have entered Germany using the tourist visas between 2000 and 2003. Prostitutes, criminals and illegal workers are believed to have been able to enter and pass through Germany as a result of the visas with the help of organised crime networks. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is due to give evidence to the parliamentary committee investigating the scandal on April 25.

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