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Officials investigating after 10 Eastern Europeans found

Ten people from Eastern Europe were found on-board a ship that docked in Shelburne on the weekend.

Ten people from Eastern Europe were found on-board a ship that docked in Shelburne on the weekend.

RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency said yesterday the ship Valletta was spotted off the Nova Scotia coast by the Coast Guard ship Earl Grey.

The 10 people on-board — five men and five women — were interviewed and taken off the ship. Three of the people were crew members.

“We interview them and identify their identity and their country origin and we do a criminal check. We’re trying to make sure these people do not pose any safety or security risk to the country,” said Laurie Gillmore, a spokeswoman with the Canada Border Services Agency.

Police are saying very little about the migrants or the ship, which left from Bermuda.

“Because we’re still following up on some avenues of investigation, we’re not disclosing their point of origin or where they’re exactly from,” said RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Brigdit Leger.

Leger said the people were not hiding on the ship, but she wouldn’t say if they are in custody or if any of them are applying for refugee status.

“We’re looking to see if there is an organized crime connection here that would include human smuggling,” she said. “Our goal here is to make sure Canadian laws are being upheld.”

Lawyer Lee Cohen said his Halifax Refugee Clinic, which provides free legal services to people claiming refugee status in Nova Scotia, helped find housing for three of the 10 on Monday.

“I haven’t heard from anybody today to know exactly who’s going where and who wants to do what,” Cohen said yesterday. “My understanding is that most, if not all of them, want to go to Toronto to have refugee claims heard.”

Other entries by boat
It is not unusual for people to try to enter Canada through Nova Scotia by boat.

• Last August, seven stowaways arrived aboard a container ship at a terminal in Halifax. Some of the stowaways had been discovered by the crew of the Atlantic Concert a day or so out of Antwerp, Belgium.

• In March 2008, four men from Algeria made their way into Canada after hiding on a double-decker bus that was transported on a ship that unloaded at the port in Halifax.

 
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