Egypt sentences 56 in migrant boat disaster case to prison

AP News
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Posted: Mar 26, 2017 3:27 PM

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court sentenced 56 defendants Sunday in the case of a boat carrying migrants that capsized off the coastal city of Rosetta in September, killing more than 200 people.

The defendants, who faced charges including involuntary manslaughter and fraud, were sentenced to up to 13 years.

The Europe-bound boat was carrying between 400-600 people including Egyptians, Africans and Syrians. Of that total, rescue workers were able to save 164 people.

Nearly a month after the incident, Egypt's parliament passed an anti-migration law stipulating heavy penalties including fines and prison terms on those convicted of smuggling or conspiring to smuggle migrants.

The sea route from Egypt to Europe has become increasingly popular for migrants, and many of the Egyptians who were on board the boat were unescorted minors or single men in their early 20s. Egypt's economy has been battered by years of unrest since its 2011 uprising, and faces double-digit unemployment and inflation.

The International Organization for Migration estimated the number of migrants who died or disappeared while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean in 2016 to be more than 5,000.