Student denies marriage plan was a sham

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A STUDENT from Pakistan has denied his plan to marry a Slovakian woman was to get round immigration rules and told a court the relationship was genuine.

Syed Gardezi agreed under cross-examination by Kama Melly, prosecuting at Leeds Crown Court, that his student visa had expired in the autumn of last year and his stay in the UK would be limited without his circumstances changing.

But he said that was not why he had submitted an application for permission to marry Livia Grundzova.

“I liked her,” he said.

He said he had met her about six months before he was arrested at the Leeds Register Office in March this year when his housemate Muhammad Usman was due to wed another Slovakian woman Maria Racova, in what the jury has heard was a sham marriage.

Gardezi said through an interpreter initially it was a bit of a struggle for him to understand what Grundzova was talking about because of their language differences but it got better.

He grew to have feelings for her, she was not happy at home because the father of her children would drink alcohol and could be physically violent to her, and her parents did not help her because they liked him.

He told his counsel, Frida Hussain, he showed sympathy towards her. “I felt bad in my heart for her.”

They decided to marry after about a month and a half and applied for permission.

“She said she was fed up and wanted to get married, probably she liked the way I behaved and my nature and she did clarify that I would consider her children as my own children if she married me,” he said.

Gardezi, 21, of Lambton Terrace, Leeds, and three other defendants Eva Facunova, 32 of Vivian Place, Little Horton, Bradford, Lukos Murgos, 22, and Zlatica Holubova, 29, both of Brompton Road, East Bowling, Bradford all deny conspiracy to breach immigration rules.

Grundzova, 21 of Conway View, Harehills, Leeds was yesterday found not guilty by the jury of the conspiracy on the direction of Judge James Spencer QC who told them there was insufficient evidence to properly convict her.

Usman, Racova and three other people have admitted the conspiracy.

Miss Melly put it to Gardezi he had known the marriage between Usman and Racova “was not a genuine marriage” when he attended the register office on March 28.

“I do not agree with that,” he said.

He told the jury he did not discuss his relationship with Usman and would not have expected him to speak of Racova and had not met her before that day.

Gardezi said he did not make his relationship with Grundzova public news because she was afraid of possible violence from the father of her children if he found out about them.

The trial continues.