A court has heard the Vietnamese men accused of operating a cannabis factory in Markethill are ‘not being considered’ as victims of human trafficking by the Home Office.
They are facing the charges of cultivating cannabis, possessing a Class B drug, attempted possession of a Class B drug, dishonestly causing electricity to be diverted, being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs and dishonestly using electricity.
At the outset of the hearing, the court heard that the initial decision from the Home Office was that the defendants were “not considered” victims of human trafficking.
Previous hearings of the case heard of ongoing issues with what the police and the Home Office were doing with the National Referral Mechanism, which was supposed to ascertain if the defendants were victims of trafficking.
The Home Office were supposed to make the decision in respect of the NRM within five days, though a decision was not made for months after the case was initially heard.
In Tuesday’s hearing, the court was told the Senior Prosecutor dealing with the case had received the file and was seeking a four week adjournment.
Police will also be arranging to speak to the defendants in Maghaberry.
District Judge Anne Marshall commented: “Hopefully by the 6th of February we’ll have a decision as to how the case is going to proceed.“