Egyptian court jails 56 over refugee boat shipwreck

March 26, 2017 2:41 pm

The undated photo shows Egyptian Coast Guard officials and rescue workers in the port city of Rosetta.

An Egyptian court sentenced
56 people to prison terms of up to 14 years on Sunday over the capsizing
of a boat that killed over 200 people, one of the deadliest disasters
in the dangerous Mediterranean crossings of migrants to Europe.

The
boat capsized off the Egyptian coast on September 21, 2016. Rescue
workers and fishermen rescued at least 169 people, but at least 202
died.
Fifty-seven people faced charges including causing the
accidental death of 202 passengers, not using sufficient rescue
equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding
suspects from authorities and using a vessel without a license. One
woman was acquitted.
The boat sank in the Mediterranean off Burg
Rashid, a village in ’s northern Beheira province where the sea and
the Nile meet. It had been carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and
Somali migrants and was believed to be heading for Italy.
One
month after the boat sank Egypt’s parliament passed legislation setting
prison terms and fines for those found guilty of smuggling migrants,
acting as brokers or facilitating migrants’ journeys.

The file photo shows a refugee boat off the Egyptian coast.A
record 5,000 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last year, aid
agencies have said. In the worst known incident, around 500 African
migrants and their children died when a fishing boat capsized off
Egypt’s coast in April.
Since Turkey and the European Union
reached an agreement a year ago to curb the flow of migrants and
refugees sailing from Turkish shores to Greece, most migrant journeys
have taken the more dangerous route from North to Italy.
In Libya, people traffickers have operated with relative ease, but many migrants and refugees also set off from Egypt.

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