The judgment decides the appeal presented by two individuals against their conviction in first instance for crimes against the rights of foreign citizens (which comprises the smuggling of migrants).
On 17 September 2012, the Services of Maritime Rescue of Cartagena (Spain) detected a small boat – inadequate to navigate on the high seas - off the coast of the city. The Guardia Civil soon rescued the boat, on board of which – in addition to the appellants - were 14 Algerian migrants. The boat had departure the previous day from the beach of Bouski Sidi Lakhdar, in the coat of Mostaganem (Algeria), in direction to Spain. The appellants helmed the boat. Migrants paid app. 6 000 000 dinars each for the trip.
It was ascertained that the appellants had for several years been organising trips to procure the illegal entry of Algerian nationals into Spain by sea, with the purpose of obtaining a financial or other material benefit.
The appellants had been previously expelled from Spanish territory several times (latest record dating 12 August 2012).
In deciding the case, the court of first instance considered documentary evidence (re, e.g., diligences taken by authorities to locate witnesses), statements of the migrants (including pre-trial declarations) as well as appellants.
In appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the court of first instance. For further details see infra under “Commentary”.