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Italy: Court sentences migrant boat captain for manslaughter and trafficking02:23

Italy: Court sentences migrant boat captain for manslaughter and trafficking

Italy, Catania
December 13, 2016 at 21:50 GMT +00:00 · Published

The man accused of captaining an overcrowded migrant boat which sank in 2015 killing almost 700 people was convicted of manslaughter and human trafficking and handed an 18 year jail sentence at a court in Catania on Tuesday.

Tunisian boat captain Mohammed Ali Malek was sentenced alongside his Syrian first mate Mahmud Bikhit who received five years in prison. Both men were also given nine million euro ($9.5 million) fines. Malek and Bikhit maintained that they were migrants who had been made to steer the boat by the real traffickers who died in the crash. The two men's lawyers are planning to appeal.

Mahmud Bikhit's lawyer Giusepe Ivo Russian said, "We will appeal because I am convinced that my client is absolutely innocent."

The boat sank off the coast of Libya in April 2015 after colliding with another vessel that had come to its aid. Twenty eight people were rescued, two men from Bangladesh who survived the incident testified as civil plaintiffs in the case.

Italy: Court sentences migrant boat captain for manslaughter and trafficking02:23
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The man accused of captaining an overcrowded migrant boat which sank in 2015 killing almost 700 people was convicted of manslaughter and human trafficking and handed an 18 year jail sentence at a court in Catania on Tuesday.

Tunisian boat captain Mohammed Ali Malek was sentenced alongside his Syrian first mate Mahmud Bikhit who received five years in prison. Both men were also given nine million euro ($9.5 million) fines. Malek and Bikhit maintained that they were migrants who had been made to steer the boat by the real traffickers who died in the crash. The two men's lawyers are planning to appeal.

Mahmud Bikhit's lawyer Giusepe Ivo Russian said, "We will appeal because I am convinced that my client is absolutely innocent."

The boat sank off the coast of Libya in April 2015 after colliding with another vessel that had come to its aid. Twenty eight people were rescued, two men from Bangladesh who survived the incident testified as civil plaintiffs in the case.

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