An image of the police operation that led to the arrest of the two suspected smugglers on the migrant boat rescued by the coast guard vessel. They are under investigation for aiding and abetting illegal immigration | Photo: ANSA / us Polizia di Stato
An image of the police operation that led to the arrest of the two suspected smugglers on the migrant boat rescued by the coast guard vessel. They are under investigation for aiding and abetting illegal immigration | Photo: ANSA / us Polizia di Stato

Italian authorities have detained two migrants who were onboard Italian coast guard ship Bruno Gregoretti. The migrants are suspected of being the smugglers operating a boat on which the rescued migrants were travelling.

Police in Ragusa, Sicily, arrested two 20-year-old foreigners who were aboard Italian coast guard ship Bruno Gregoretti. The Senegalese and Gambian nationals are suspected of being smugglers piloting the rescued migrant ship. 


Last Thursday, 135 migrants including the two suspects, who had set off from Libya, were rescued and then taken onto the Gregoretti. The pair are under investigation for aiding and abetting illegal immigration. 

Police in the Sicilian cities of Ragusa and Siracusa are investigating the case. After confirming their arrest, prosecutors in Ragusa will submit evidence to their counterparts in Siracusa who have territorial jurisdiction given that the migrants disembarked at the port of Augusta, although they were immediately transferred to a migrant hotspot in Pozzallo. 

Pair accused of pocketing 4,000 Libyan dinars 

The two men are accused of earning 4,000 Libyan dinars, some 2,500 euros each, to pilot the boat with the migrants on board. The suspects have been identified as Dawud Saine, 19, and Habibou Khan, 20. The migrant who was allowed to disembark first from the Gregoretti for health reasons, a suspected tuberculosis, is still being treated at the Umberto I Hospital in Siracusa. 

The 115 migrants of different nationalities who were transferred to Pozzallo's hotspot will soon be distributed to different hosting centers, officials said. Those requiring medical care and 16 unaccompanied minors were allowed to disembark before them and taken to reception centers. 

Eye witnesses reported suspects' role

According to a number of witnesses, the two suspects took turns to pilot the migrant boat. The migrants - who had never been identified in Italy, according to police - said they set off from Libya after spending some time at a connection house. They said that they paid on average 1,000 euro each to reach Europe and that the smugglers piloted the boat for a couple of days before the rescue operation.
 

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