Staff reporter

PALMA
THIS morning, the 34 illegal immigrants arrested in Majorca on Monday after sailing across from Algeria will be moved to a holding centre in Barcelona before being flown home.

The central government delegate to the Balearics, Ramón Socías, who is handling the case, said yesterday that their deportation orders were signed at 11pm on Monday night.

Socias also revealed that, apart from the 34 illegal immigrants who landed on the coast in the municipality of Santanyí in the early hours of Monday morning, two more Algerians believed to have also been on board the 14-metre fishing boat, were arrested late on Monday night and will also be sent to Barcelona.

Socias also said that the captain and the lone crew member are suspected of having organised the crossing and will be charged with people trafficking. They will probably remain in Barcelona and return to Majorca to stand trial.

The central government representative explained yesterday that each and every one of the immigrants was given a medical check and all, bar one who had a minor foot injury, were healthy and in good physical condition.

Socias added that he hopes the swiftness of Majorca's response and their rapid deportation will send out a strong message that the authorities are not prepared to allow the Balearics to become a new entry point for illegal immigrants hoping to make it to the mainland or the rest of Europe.

At a press briefing yesterday, he said that both Guardia Civil and National Police land and marine patrols are going to be significantly stepped up. Two new and highly equipped fast launches have arrived in the region over the past two days. Should this fail to stem the flow, drastic action will be taken.

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