Charges dropped against Indian man over ‘Commonwealth Games imposters’
Four of the Indian nationals arrested by Australian Border Force officers at Brisbane Airport yesterday. (Supplied: ABF)
Charges have been dropped against an Indian man accused of smuggling a contingent of fake journalists into Australia during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, due to insufficient evidence.
- Rakesh Kumar Sharma allegedly led a group of Commonwealth Games imposters
- Commonwealth DPP declares there is no reasonable prospect of conviction
- Mr Sharma is being released from custody but faces deportation
Rakesh Kumar Sharma has been in custody since March, when he was arrested at the Brisbane International Airport, along with eight other Indian nationals.
At the time, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers said the men travelling with Mr Sharma had fraudulent credentials to cover the sporting event, after an ABF airline liaison officer in Bangkok flagged the group as “non-genuine travellers”.
ABF officials described the group as alleged Commonwealth Games imposters.
Mr Sharma was facing up to 20 years in prison for one count of aggravated people smuggling and one count of aggravated providing false documents relating to non-citizens.
He appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday for the start of a committal hearing on the false documents charge, with assistance from an interpreter.
But the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) told the court the case would not be proceeding and Mr Sharma was told he would be released from custody.
“Prior to committal, the CDPP reviewed the evidence that was available to be put before the court and assessed it accordance with the prosecution policy of the Commonwealth,” a CDPP spokesperson said.
“It was determined that given the available evidence there was now no reasonable prospect of conviction.”
The people-smuggling charge had been discontinued in June, when the DPP decided there was “no reasonable prospects of conviction on that charge”.
An ABF spokesman said the eight other Indian nationals had all been removed from Australia.
Mr Sharma now also faces deportation.
“We do not discuss potential removals before they occur,” the ABF spokesman said.
“However, anyone not holding a valid visa to remain in Australia is liable to be detained and removed from Australia as soon as possible.”