Tunisian ‘captain’ and Syrian ‘cabin boy’ face 18 and 6 years
A preliminary hearings judge in Catania will on December 13 hand down a sentence in a fast-track trial against two men held responsible for a migrant boat tragedy that resulted in the death of approximately 700 people off the coast of Libya on April 18, 2015, sources said on Tuesday.
The defendants are Tunisian national Mohamed Ali’ Malek, 27, the alleged captain of the boat, and his supposed cabin boy, Mahmud Bikhit, 25, from Syria.
Both men are accused of favouring illegal immigration and Malek also faces charges of multiple manslaughter and shipwreck.
Both maintain their innocence, claiming they were merely passengers. Prosecutors have called for 18 years and a 3-million euro compensation order for Malek and 6 years for Bikhit. The prosecution claims the shipwreck “was brought about by a series of joint causes, including overcrowding on board the vessel and erroneous maneuvers carried out by ‘captain’ Malek that led the fishing boat to collide with the merchant vessel King Jacob”, which had arrived to rescue the migrants. The boat and the bodies trapped inside were recovered and transferred to a Siracusa port in a defence ministry operation.