A former cabin crew member, who is currently unemployed, has been sentenced to jail after handing over his boarding pass and travel documents to another individual at Changi Airport in Singapore in exchange for money.
Based on local news reports, the court heard that in February 2022, 49-year old Thasrathan Jegatheson received a call from a man he had met in 2013 when he was working as a cabin crew member for Malaysia Airlines. The man asked Jegatheson if he wanted to participate in a “job arrangement”, which involved handing his boarding pass to another individual, along with his passport and personal details.
For his part in the scheme, Jegatheson was promised $700 (MYR 3,000) and a two-day stay in Bangkok.
Jegatheson was aware that what was required of him was illegal, but complied out of financial need, local news reported.
Jegatheson was then booked on a Scoot Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Berlin via Singapore on February 10, 2022. When he arrived in Singapore, he obtained a boarding pass for his onward flight to Berlin.
While in transit at Changi Airport, Jegatheson then met Mohanathas Kaniyamuthan, a 26-year-old man who flew separately from Sri Lanka. Kaniyamuthan engaged in a transnational human smuggling syndicate to assist his passage to Berlin, where he believed he would be offered better employment opportunities.
He was given a forged passport bearing Jegatheson details. Only the photo, year of birth, identity number and serial code were changed.
According to local media, Kaniyamuthan’s family paid the equivalent of about $9,800 to an “agent” to facilitate the smuggling process, and they would have paid the same amount again if he had made it to Berlin successfully.
The court heard that both men were instructed not to speak to one another and to communicate only through gestures. Each was given a photograph and description of what the other was wearing.
When the men spotted one another, they proceeded to the men’s restroom, where Jegatheson handed over his boarding passes and travel documents. Kaniyamuthan, in return, handed Jegatheson US$1,000 in cash.
Shortly after, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) arrested Jegatheson before he was able to board the plane. Court documents did not state how the ICA officers became aware of Kaniyamuthan’s illegal plan. Jegatheson was also arrested soon after.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor asked for four to five months’ imprisonment for Jegatheson.
It is not known or reported what sentence Kaniyamuthan, or the organizers of the human trafficking syndicate, received.