Imam who spent 5 months behind bars accused of trafficking pregnant woman slams prosecutors as case collapses
The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped charges against Hafeji Yakub, 57, and four others after they were accused of trafficking a pregnant eastern European woman into the UK then selling her into a sham marriage
An imam who spent five months in jail accused of masterminding an international bogus marriage scam has slammed prosecutors after the case against him dramatically collapsed.
The Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges against Hafeji Yakub, 57, and four others ‘in light of new information’ that ‘seriously undermined’ their case.
The five had been accused of tracfficking a pregnant eastern European woman into the UK then selling her into a sham marriage.
Investigators had claimed Mr Yakub, a father of six, was the ring-leader of a trafficking gang. They also alleged he had conducted her marriage ceremony.
Police raided his home on Ashfield Road, in Rochdale, and kicked his wife out of the property claiming it was being used as part of the alleged scam.
But after he had spent five months on remand at Forest Bank and Strangeways prisons the case collapsed and charges that he conspired to enslave the woman and also conspired to arrange her entry to the UK for exploitation were dropped.
The India-born religious teacher, who has conducted many nikahs or Islamic marriage ceremonies, insisted he never met the girl nor his co-accused.
Speaking through his son he told the MEN: “They were totally wrong in their assumptions and accused me. They came into my house and made me stand in the hall for an hour.
"They treated me unjustly. They kept saying I was the main guy in this gang and the leader.
"They were false accusations. I have never seen this girl. It doesn’t make sense. They made a huge mistake, an horrendous mistake and they should apologise.
“I spent five months in prison with some bad people. It was a frightening experience. People were fighting all the time. I wouldn’t want anybody else to experience it.”
His son Mufti Sufyan, a student, said he had helped his father conduct many nikahs and insisted ‘we did everything by the book’.
A CPS spokeswoman said: “All cases are subject to continuous review, and in light of new information that recently came to light which seriously undermined the prosecution case, a further review of all the evidence was conducted in consultation with prosecuting counsel and police.
"The CPS concluded that there is no longer sufficient evidence to generate a realistic prospect of conviction, therefore on April 1, 2015 the CPS formally offered no evidence in the case against all five defendants.
“Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct; the CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.”