1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages

Europe

Italy sentences Tunisian to 18 years for deadly shipwreck

An Italian court has sentenced Mohammed Ali Malek to 18 years in prison for the deaths of up to 850 migrants killed in a tragic shipwreck on the Mediterranean. The Tunisian skipper denied responsibility for their deaths.

The Italian Coast Guard ship Gregretti, carrying 27 survivors of the migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean, arrives at Catania port on April 20, 2015.

The Italian Coast Guard ship Gregretti, carrying 27 survivors of the migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean, arrives at Catania port on April 20, 2015.

Italian judges on Tuesday found Malek guilty for causing the tragedy, while also sentencing him for multiple cases of manslaughter and human trafficking. He was sentenced to 18 years in jail, according to reports on Tuesday.

The court in Catania, Sicily also sentenced Syrian national Mahmoud Bikhit to five years for abetting illegal immigration. Bikhit allegedly served as Malek's first mate. Both of the men were ordered to pay nine million euros ($9.5 million) in compensation.

The 28-year-old Malek, who once lived in Italy, denied being the ship's captain, saying he paid for his spot on the small fishing vessel that capsized not far from the coast of Libya.

"I spent two years and six months in Italy, and I have a young son with an Italian woman: I want to marry her and recognize the baby," Malek said before the verdict.

"It's the truth. I've always told the truth. Just as I immediately gave (authorities) my real name, and told them I was a passenger," he added.

Watch video 03:34

Tunesian skipper convicted of manslaughter: Ruben Neugebauer (Sea Watch) speaks to DW

However, surviving witnesses told Italian investigators that Malek was indeed the captain, and that his lack of sailing skills caused the deadly collision with an aid ship.

In a bid to prevent the collision, the aid freighter's captain Abdullah Ambrousi said he cut his ship's engines when he noticed the migrant boat sailing erratically, but the smaller vessel increased speed and rammed into the aid ship.

Deadliest maritime tragedy

The maritime tragedy is considered the deadliest in recent Mediterranean history. Only 28 people have been rescued since the ship sank. Italian news agency ANSA placed the death toll at approximately 850 people.

Since 2013, more than 12,000 people have been killed making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, according to official figures.

However, the death toll may be higher due to many more disappearing during the trip, independent aid agencies said.

Approximately 175,000 migrants have arrived on Italian shores in 2016, overwhelming authorities managing the influx.

dj,ls/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

DW recommends

Audios and videos on the topic