AN AWOL Liberian who married a Latvian woman in a sham immigration wedding in St Leonards has been sentenced to 13 months in prison.
The authorities are still trying to trace 27-year-old Mikael Prince, formerly of St Margaret’s Road, after he skipped bail. But after he was tried in his absence last week and found guilty of avoiding removal from the Uk and perjury, the judge gave him a 13 month prison term.
Prince wed Larisa Kuznecova, formerly of Anglesea Terrace, St Leonards, at a bogus ceremony at St Peter’s Church off Bohemia Road in June 2006. The marriage was conducted by Rev Alex Brown, who was jailed in September for his part in what prosecutors called a “massive and cynical scam,” along with immigration lawyer and pastor Michael Adelasoye and fixer Vladymr Buchak.
The trio were all given four year jail terms.
Prince and Kuznecova’s wedding was one of 360 carried out at the church between African and EU nationals which were investigated by immigration officials at the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Larisa Kuznecova was Buchak’s girlfriend and the pair had a son together, but the prosecution said she was persuaded to marry Prince for money. She admitted perjury at a hearing in December and was given a 12 month conditional discharge.
Andy Cummins, of the UKBA, said: “We would appeal to anyone who may have information about Prince’s whereabouts to come forward to us.
“We want to track this man down and put him behind bars.
“The UK Border Agency takes abuse of the immigration system very seriously, and we are working closely with churches and registrars to identify suspect sham marriages.
“If we uncover marriages that are not genuine, we will challenge them and prosecute where appropriate. Our main aim is to identify the organisers who profit from and fuel the demand for sham marriages, and destroy their criminal business.”