Monday 5 December 2016

Two Syrians jailed over death of migrant boy Alan Kurdi

Published 04/03/2016 | 11:39

Turkish paramilitary police escort Syrian smugglers Muwafaka Alabash, front, and Asem Alfrhad, rear, at the trial in Bodrum (AP)
Turkish paramilitary police escort Syrian smugglers Muwafaka Alabash, front, and Asem Alfrhad, rear, at the trial in Bodrum (AP)

A Turkish court has sentenced two Syrian smugglers to four years and two months each in prison over the death of three-year-old migrant boy Alan Kurdi and four other people.

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The state-run Anadolu Agency said the court convicted the two of human trafficking but acquitted them of the charge of causing the deaths through deliberate negligence.

Alan's brother Galip and his mother Rihan were also among the five victims who drowned last year when their boat sank during the ill-fated journey from Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos.

The image of the boy's lifeless body lying face down on a Turkish beach galvanised world attention on the refugee crisis, graphically illustrating the magnitude of the migrants' suffering.

Prosecutors had sought a maximum 35 years in prison for the defendants, Syrian nationals Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad.

They had denied any responsibility for the migrants' deaths, blaming Alan's father Abdullah Kurdi - accusing him of organising the trip.

He has since returned to Syria.

Trials in Turkey usually take months - even years - to conclude, but the verdict in the Aegean resort of Bodrum , which came just a month after the trial opened, appeared to be an effort by the country to show that it is cracking down on human traffickers, days before a March 7 summit between Turkey and the European Union to discuss the migrant crisis.

Turkey is under pressure to reduce the tide of migrants to Europe and to combat the smuggling rings since it reached a deal with the EU in November. Under the deal, Turkey is scheduled to receive a 3 billion euro (£2.3 billion) fund to help the country deal with Syrian refugees.

Turkish officials say authorities last year detained more than 4,400 smugglers who organise the often-dangerous crossings in frail boats.

Press Association

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