Border agency staff are powerless to deport Lazhari Zemouche who has been arrested 92 times in Spain over the past 25 years for crimes from theft to robbery.
* Lazhari Zemouche arrested 92 times in Spain over the past 25 years
* Crimes range from theft to robbery and he has used fake identities
* Believed to have entered into a sham marriage to obtain a British passport
An Algerian-born career criminal suspected of a ‘marriage of convenience’ to a British citizen has been deported from Spain to the UK.
Police said Lazhari Zemouche had been arrested 92 times in Spain over the past 25 years for crimes from theft to robbery and had used a number of fake identities.
But because he had married in the UK before his latest crime spree in Spain, he was deported to London rather than to his native Algeria.
Officials said he was put on a plane to London after his latest arrest in Majorca because he was deemed a ‘security risk’ in Spain.
Spanish police sources claimed Zemouche, whose whereabouts were unknown last night, had entered into a sham marriage to obtain a British passport.
They admitted that unless Zemouche was a wanted man in Britain, he would be free to roam the streets and carry on offending as he has done over the past two and a half decades in Spain.
His wife’s identity and the exact date of his marriage, said to have taken place in England ‘a few years ago’, were not revealed by the Spanish authorities.
He was deported to the UK under a 2007 Spanish law allowing it to expel EU citizens for security reasons.
A spokesman for police in Majorca, where 45-year-old Zemouche was arrested on October 4 and held in an immigration centre pending deportation, declined to name him officially.
But Zemouche’s initials appeared in the local media and informed sources confirmed his full identity.
The police spokesman said: ‘He was deported to Britain because he married a British citizen in the UK and has British nationality.
‘Police records show he has been arrested 92 times since 1987 in different parts of Spain for crimes including theft and robbery and has been in prison several times. He has also used up to 22 identities.
If this gentleman has put on his British passport form that he’s not got a criminal record outside of the UK then he would appear to be lying because his spells in prison date back a number of years.’
A police source added: ‘We suspect he entered into a sham marriage to obtain a British passport because after marrying he’s returned to Spain and continued offending and in principle doesn’t appear to have had any contact in Spain with his wife. For us it’s a marriage of convenience.’
Last night there was no answer at an address in North London where Zemouche is thought to have lived previously.
Spanish police declined to offer a full list of his past offences. An official admitted: ‘Unless he is wanted in Britain then he will obviously be free to walk the streets a free man until such time as he reoffends.
‘But with his history, it’s a question of when and not if he’s going to reoffend.’
The Home Office said it could not discuss individual cases.
Before he was granted British citizenship, background checks were carried out on Zemouche. These would have included establishing whether he had committed any offences in the UK.
Figures last year showed EU migrants were committing over 500 crimes a week in Britain, but officials were powerless to deport most of them.
Whitehall’s interpretation of EU freedom of movement rules means only offenders who have received a jail term of at least two years can be deported.