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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Suspected smuggler in lethal shipwreck despatched again to Italy

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ROME — Austrian authorities on Friday handed over to Italy one of many suspected smugglers of the boat which capsized in February off southern Italy in a tragedy that killed 92 migrants, Italian police mentioned.

The suspect, a 27-year-old Turk recognized by police as Ufuk Gun, was arrested on March 7 close to Graz, Austria.

Prosecutors in Calabria, within the “toe” of the Italian mainland, are investigating the shipwreck, close to the seashore city of Cutro. There have been 80 survivors, lots of whom staggered ashore or had been pulled to security by native residents.

They’re additionally investigating whether or not the Italian coast guard ought to have been dispatched hours earlier, in time to stop the deaths.

After the shipwreck, the conservative authorities of Premier Giorgia Meloni sharply raised legal penalties in opposition to individuals smugglers who trigger demise however denied any blame for the tragedy.

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Italian police mentioned in a written assertion that authorities organized for the suspect, sought on a European arrest warrant, to be returned to Italy on the border city of Tarvisio. After formalities, the person shall be delivered to Crotone, the headquarters of prosecutors close to Cutro, for continued investigation, police mentioned.

Survivors had indicated the suspected smugglers to investigators. On the time, a warrant for Gun was issued, court docket paperwork indicated his whereabouts as unknown and no lawyer for him was listed.

It’s normal for smugglers to attempt to mingle with their passengers in hopes of avoiding arrest, after which try to slide out of Italy. Three different suspected smugglers have beforehand been arrested within the shipwreck investigation.

The boat had set out from Turkey. Afghans, Pakistanis, Iranians, Somalis and Palestinians had been amongst those that paid about 8,000 euros (then $8,700) apiece for the journey, which they hoped would attain Europe so they might discover work or reunite with household.

Italy’s inside minister, Matteo Piantedosi, has dismissed contentions by opposition lawmakers and rights teams that the shipwreck may have been prevented. He argued that the smugglers may have introduced the boat to shore hours earlier however intentionally saved it at sea in hopes of avoiding police on shore.

Simply offshore, the boat, rocked by tall waves, slammed right into a sandbank, splintering and quickly taking up water. Our bodies washed up on seashores for days afterwards.

Italy determined at first solely to ship border police boats, which could not deal with the tough seas, and never coast guard vessels, higher outfitted for rescue in opposed marine circumstances, after the migrant boat was noticed by surveillance plane.

At a Cupboard assembly held in Cutro, 11 days after the shipwreck, Meloni and her authorities had issued a decree establishing a brand new crime — individuals smuggling that leads to demise of migrants — punishable by as much as 30 years in jail, an exceptionally stiff sentence for crimes involving facilitating unlawful immigration.

Regardless of the crackdown, the migrants maintain coming. Because the begin of this 12 months, almost 40,000 had arrived by Thursday on Italy’s southern shores, some 4 instances extra that the variety of migrants arriving in the identical interval final 12 months.

The tiny Italian isle of Lampedusa has been struggling to briefly home lots of the migrants, who come ashore both unaided or after rescue by coast guard boats, earlier than they are often despatched elsewhere for screening of their asylum bids.

Whereas boats nonetheless set out from Libya and Turkey, these days lots of the smugglers’ precariously constructed vessels are being launched from Tunisia.


Comply with AP’s protection of worldwide migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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