Migrants launch from the coast of northern France cross the English Channel in an inflatable boat near Dover, Britain, August 4, 2021 | Photo: Peter Nicholls / Reuters
Migrants launch from the coast of northern France cross the English Channel in an inflatable boat near Dover, Britain, August 4, 2021 | Photo: Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Police in the UK have arrested a 32-year-old man suspected of having played a key role in the fatal Channel crossing incident one year ago. The man was detained in southwestern in the UK town of Cheltenham following a joint investigation by UK and French authorities.

The National Crime Agency detained a 32-year-old in the southwestern UK town of Cheltenham following a joint investigation by UK and French authorities.

Officials accuse Harem Ahmed A. of being a member of the organized crime gang behind the fatal Channel crossing on November 24, 2019.

"The individual detained today is suspected of having played a key role in the manslaughter of those who died," crime agency deputy director Craig Turner told reporters.

"Working closely with our French partners we are determined to do all we can to get justice for the families of those whose lives were lost," he added. 

However, the UK has also faced criticism over its general handling of Channel migrants, with activists calling for a less hostile environment at sea.

English Channel between northern France and southern Britain | Source: Google Maps
English Channel between northern France and southern Britain | Source: Google Maps


Read more: Terms and acronyms that asylum seekers need to know in the UK

Extradition to France

The suspect is due to appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court to face an extradition request to France. 

French prosecutors have charged 10 people for their alleged role in the disaster which took place just over a year ago.

There, he faces charges, which amount to the French equivalent of manslaughter and facilitating illegal immigration.

Read more: French authorities rescue 61 migrants from the English Channel

Death not a deterrent

The packed boat sank between France and England with 33 on board. Only two people survived the shipwreck, with four people still missing one year later. Among the 27 victims were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese migrant.

The event is seen as the worst single accident in the Channel to date. But regardless, a growing number of migrants are still risking their lives to reach the UK from the shores of northern France. The small vessels they travel on are typically organized by smuggling gangs. 

More than 40,000 people have arrived in Britain using this irregular means of migration so far this year.

Read more: Hidden from sight: The dangers of clandestine migration journeys

with AFP, AP

 

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