Some of the women and children part of a group of 137 sub-Saharan migrants that arrived on two boats on the island of Lampedusa, Sicily, on May 4, 2020 | Photo: ANSA
Some of the women and children part of a group of 137 sub-Saharan migrants that arrived on two boats on the island of Lampedusa, Sicily, on May 4, 2020 | Photo: ANSA

An Italian prosecutor's office has upheld jail sentences imposed on six individuals of Italian and Tunisian nationality that ran ''luxury'' trips between Tunisia and Sicily for migrants. The ruse was discovered in a 2017 operation against clandestine migration.

The general prosecutor of the Palermo Court of Appeals has asked for the upholding of sentences imposed during a fast-track trial on December 20, 2018 by the preliminary investigative judge Annalisa Tesoriere for six defendants. 


The Italian and Tunisian nationals were put on trial following an operation against clandestine migration entitled ''Scorpion Fish'' that ended June 6, 2017. 

The criminal organization was found guilty of running ''luxury'' trips for migrants between Tunisia's Capo Bon and Sicily's eastern coast on super-fast dinghies that were also used to smuggle cigarettes.

Up to €3,000 euros per person for the journey

The dinghies left from a small tourist port near the Sappusi area on the outskirts of Marsala. The journeys were low risk but costly at €3,000 per person and were used to transport small groups of non-EU citizens who, once on the Sicilian coast, were picked up and taken to homes to take a shower and change clothes.

While six defendants were acquitted by the judge, prison sentences were handed to six individuals: a sentence of seven years and four months in jail for Jabranne Ben Cheikh, 30, alleged head of the criminal organization, and Chiheb Hamrouni, 28. Six years and eight months were given to Tarek Ben Massoud, 32, and two brothers from Marsala: Salvatore Allegra, 56, and Angelo Allegra, 50. The Florentine native Simonetta Sodi -- 58 years and the companion of Ben Cheikh -- was given a sentence of three years and four months. 

The appeal trial concerns only the six found guilty in the first trial and is being held before the second section of the Palermo Court of Appeals.
 

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