London, Apr 5 (PTI) A gang made up of Pakistani and Lithuanian origin men and women has been jailed for their role in organising sham marriages of at least 13 men, including one from India, for a European visa.

Ayaz Khan was jailed for six years and his estranged wife, Jurgita Pavlovskyte, for five years at the Old Bailey court in London yesterday as the ringleaders of the gang that organised fake weddings for at least 11 grooms from Pakistan, and one each from India and Bangladesh with brides from Lithuania. Other members of the gang, Muhammad Saqlain, Diana Stankevic, Irfan Farooq and Sheikh Ahmad, were handed down sentences ranging between 18 months and three years.

This was an organised criminal operation, and not the genuine enterprise Pavlovskyte and Khan made it out to be, said Assistant Director David Fairclough from the UK’s Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team.

The gang flew Lithuanian women into the UK to marry men from South Asia, who had no “leave to remain” in the UK or whose “leave to remain” was due to expire soon.

The sham weddings were marketed as business deals costing around 3,000 euros each, with the brides aged 18 to 25 arriving from Eastern Europe for the ceremony and departing shortly afterwards with their share of the fee.

As a European Union (EU) citizen, their spouses would then be entitled to residence in the UK.

The Immigration Enforcement’s CFI team found that payments made into the accounts of the suspects coincided with marriages which would go on to aid applications for residency submitted to the UK Home Office.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.