France: Four Iranians sentenced for shipwreck in English Channel

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FranceFour Iranians sentenced for shipwreck in English Channel

Jail sentences were handed down on Friday against four Iranians for their involvement in an October 2020 English Channel shipwreck that killed seven migrants.

Migratory crossings in small boats have increased since 2018 and the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel have been closed. (illustrative photo)

AFP

Only one of the defendants, who was released under judicial supervision in the absence of the boat’s pilot, was tried. Sentenced to two years in prison, he told investigators he paid 2,500 euros (2,500 francs) but was suspected of negotiating a free or reduced price.

The defendants were charged with manslaughter, endangering the lives of others, and aiding and abetting an organized gang. The lawyer, Amélie Le Sant, pointed to the “lack of humanity in this network”, which put the migrants’ lives in the hands of inexperienced pilots who, in severe weather, threatened them to get on board and then organize crossings. After the tragedy.

Raoub R., specifically accused of guiding the boat to the beach and appointed leader on the day of the tragedy by the survivors, received nine years of rigorous imprisonment. He denied any involvement before the court, confirming that he had never been to France.

Mustafa K., who was sentenced to seven years in prison, admitted to taking part in setting up illegal crossings, saying he acted in exchange for the smugglers’ promise to take him free. To the President, who specifically questioned him about the lack of life jackets on the stricken boat, he replied, “You have to ask their hijacker, not me.”

Heavy penalty

The small fishing boat, designed for four or five passengers, capsized at Gravelines on the north coast of France with 22 people on board. An Iranian Kurdish family was trapped inside the room. The parents and their three children, an eight-year-old girl, a six-year-old boy and an 18-month-old boy, all drowned. The younger man’s body was found a few weeks later on a Norwegian beach. Two others are missing at sea.

Hoshiar K., who was sentenced to five years in prison, denied any involvement despite the fact that his car and his phone were found on the beach in the drama.

The four defendants were banned from French territory as requested by the prosecutor, and fined between 20,000 and 70,000 euros. The prosecutor asked for a prison sentence of two to ten years and a fine of up to 100,000 euros.

Migratory crossings in small boats have increased since 2018 and the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel have been closed. By 2022, more than 45,000 have thus reached English shores. The human toll is high: On the night of November 23 to 24, 2021, at least 27 migrants died. On December 14, 2022, four more people drowned.

(AFP)

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