Italy: smuggler sentenced to twenty years in prison after deadly shipwreck

An Italian court on Wednesday (February 7) sentenced a Turkish smuggler involved in a shipwreck that caused the death of at least 94 migrants to twenty years in prison, local media reported

Italy: smuggler sentenced to twenty years in prison after deadly shipwreck

An Italian court on Wednesday (February 7) sentenced a Turkish smuggler involved in a shipwreck that caused the death of at least 94 migrants to twenty years in prison, local media reported. He also sentenced him to a fine of three million euros and to pay damages to the civil parties.

The Crotone court found Gun Ufuk, a 29-year-old Turkish national, guilty of causing the sinking of a ship full of migrants and of participating in an illegal immigration network.

The accused was one of four suspected human traffickers aboard a migrant ship that sank during a storm off Calabria on February 26, 2023.

The boat, which was carrying around 180 migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Syria, including many children, left Turkish shores but sank shortly after. A suspected smuggler died in the sinking, while two others appeared in court.

Mr Ufuk told the court on Wednesday that he was only hired to be the engineer on board, not the pilot. “I had to flee Turkey for political reasons,” he told the court, saying he was jailed for criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After this shipwreck, the far-right Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, promised to be more severe towards smugglers. His party won the 2022 elections by pledging in particular to reduce the arrival of migrants by sea on the peninsula.