Migrant disaster: 'Skipper' guilty over 700 Mediterranean deaths

A Tunisian man has been found guilty by a court in Sicily of causing the sinking of a boat in which 700 migrants died in April 2015.

Mohammed Ali Malek, accused of being the boat’s captain, faces 18 years in jail. He was also convicted of manslaughter and human trafficking. A Syrian was given a five-year sentence.
The heavily overcrowded boat sank off Libya after colliding with a merchant vessel that had come to its rescue.
Only 28 people survived the disaster.
Many of those who died had been crammed into the hold of the fishing boat and locked inside.
Most of the victims on the 27m-long (90ft) boat were from countries including Mali, Gambia, Senegal and Ethiopia.
Malek had denied being captain of the boat when it rammed the side of King Jacob merchant vessel as it came to the trawler’s aid in international waters. Prosecutors at the court in Catania said his control of the boat had been “naive, careless and negligent”.
He drew the BBC a diagram, arguing that the fishing boat had lost balance because of waves created by the King Jacob’s propeller.
Mahmoud Bikhit, a Syrian accused of being a crew member, was also convicted by the court on Tuesday and given five years in jail.
The scale of the disaster prompted the EU to rethink its response to the migrant crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean.
However, the numbers of people crossing to Italy in unsafe boats from North African countries has risen this year to 175,244, the UN says. The number of fatalities in the Mediterranean has also risen to 4,742, an increase of almost 1,000 on 2015.
Source: bbc.co.uk

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