A scene from rescue operations on the boat with 313 migrants and 49 dead bodies aboard in the Strait of Sicily on August 17, 2015. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/GUARDIA DI FINANZA
A scene from rescue operations on the boat with 313 migrants and 49 dead bodies aboard in the Strait of Sicily on August 17, 2015. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/GUARDIA DI FINANZA

The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation has definitively confirmed sentences of 20 years in jail for three human traffickers responsible for a boat rescued in the Strait of Sicily carrying 313 migrants as well as the bodies of another 49 migrants who died during the crossing. The rescue took place in the summer of 2015 and the event is known as the "Ferragosto Massacre", Ferragosto being an Italian holiday on August 15.

The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation confirmed three 20-year prison sentences for human traffickers responsible for a boat that had 313 migrants aboard and the bodies of another 49 migrants who had died during the crossing. The traffickers were convicted of voluntary homicide. The boat was rescued in the Strait of Sicily by the military ship Cigala Fulgosi. 


The Cassation Court declared inadmissible the defense's appeal against the ruling by the Catania Court of Assizes of Appeal, presided by Judge Elisabetta Messina. 

On May 23, 2018, that court accepted the request by state prosecutor Angelo Busacca to confirm the sentence by the court of first instance, in which in October 2016 Judge Giovanni Cariolo ruled in the trial over the "Ferragosto massacre". 

Defendants declare themselves innocent 

Survivors and victims arrived in Catania on August 17, 2015 aboard the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot. The defendants in the case - Libyan Mohamed Assayd, 20; Moroccan Mustapha Saaid, 25; and Tunisian Mohamed Ali Chouchane, 25, and accused of being the captain - all declared themselves innocent of the accusations of favoring illegal immigration and homicide. Another five alleged members of the crew are on trial before the Catania Court of Assizes of Appeal. 

In the court of first instance two Libyans - Alla F. Hamad Abdelkarim, 23; and Abd Arahman Abd Al Monsiff, 21 - were sentenced to 30 years in prison. Another three alleged traffickers were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. 

Accusations against the eight involved 

The eight suspects were stopped after investigations by state and local police as well as the finance police and its organized crime investigative group, GICO. The investigation by the Catania district prosecutor's office connected the deaths of the 49 men to the lack of air inside the cramped hold of the fishing boat. According to the charges, the eight men kicked, punched, and used belts on the migrants in the hold, "body-blocking the hatches that would have allowed passage to the upper bridge" and therefore "causing death due to lack of oxygen" of the 49 migrants. 
 

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