The Latest: Smugglers face 35-year terms in boy's drowning

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2015 9:48 AM
The Latest:  Smugglers face 35-year terms in boy's drowning

BERLIN (AP) — The latest in the influx of people into Europe. All times local:

3:45 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says prosecutors are seeking 35-year prison terms for two suspected human-smugglers held responsible for the drowning of the 3-year-old Syrian migrant boy, whose images helped focus the world's attention on the Syrian refugee crisis.

The Anadolu Agency says the prosecutor's office in the resort of Bodrum on Thursday accused the two Syrians of "deliberate negligence" and of migrant trafficking. Authorities were still trying to identify six other suspected smugglers.

Photos of Aylan Kurdi, who washed up dead on the beach in Bodrum in September, galvanized global sympathy for the refugees, leading some countries to ease restrictions on accepting migrants.

Aylan, his brother and mother were among five migrants who drowned when their boat capsized on the way to the Greek island of Kos.

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2:45 p.m.

The European Union has started legal action against Greece, Italy and Croatia for failing to correctly register migrants.

Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in those countries over the last few months but less than half of them have been registered by national authorities. Greece has only fingerprinted around 121,000 of the almost half a million people who arrived there between July 20 and Nov. 30 this year, according to the European Commission.

The Commission warned the three countries about the shortfalls two months ago, but said Thursday that these "concerns have not been effectively addressed."

The EU's executive arm said it sent formal letters of notice to the three, the first formal step in infringement proceedings.

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12:50 p.m.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says it is necessary for the European Union to better protect its external border to be able to cope with the current wave of migrants.

Speaking to reporters in Prague Thursday, Schaueble says that with better management "we can destroy the business model of the human smuggling organizations."

Schaeuble was in the Czech capital to attend a meeting of the EPP Christian Democrat group of the European Parliament.

According to Schaeuble, migration also has a positive side, at least for Germany, because with the migrants "we can fight our demographic problems ... (and) ... we can integrate the people into our labor market."

He says he is confident that with proper management of the border protection "we will manage" the migrant crisis.

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11:50 a.m.

Greek authorities have located four more bodies off the eastern Aegean Sea islet of Farmakonissi, a day after a boat carrying migrants sank there, drowning 12 people and leaving 12 more missing.

The coast guard says the bodies of two men, a woman and a baby were located Thursday in the sea off Farmakonissi. It was not yet clear whether they were among those missing from Wednesday's accident, in which a wooden boat carrying about 50 people sank.

A further 26 people who had been on the boat were rescued.

More than 230 people have drowned in Greek waters so far this year, as about 770,000 refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa crossed to the Aegean islands in flimsy boats provided by smuggling rings.

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11:15 a.m.

A top European human rights official is decrying Europe's handling of the huge influx of migrants and asylum-seekers into the continent, calling it "simply disastrous," and is urging European nations to change tack.

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks said in a statement Thursday on the occasion of international human rights day that Europe is letting migrants and asylum-seekers down.

He said the arrivals are a challenge for many countries. But the response by some, which includes toughening up immigration laws and erecting fences, is wrong, causing unnecessary suffering to people who have already been through traumatic experiences.

He said European countries have to improve reception conditions, ease safe passage and access to asylum and better integrate migrants so that the values of solidary and tolerance they have committed themselves to are upheld.

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9:30 a.m.

The man responsible for Berlin's central registration center for migrants has resigned following criticism about the chaotic conditions on site.

The head of Berlin state's department for health and social affairs says Franz Allert had asked to be released from his post immediately "in view of the massive personal criticism" directed at him.

Senator Mario Czaja said in a statement late Wednesday that a newly created office for refugee affairs will receive additional funding and staff to cope with the workload caused by the influx of migrants to the German capital.

The registration center, known as the LaGeSo, has been overwhelmed by the number of people arriving in Berlin since the summer, when Germany agreed to allow migrants stuck in Hungary to come to the country.