Agrigento judge jails three smugglers, halting luxury journey on Tunisian fishing boat

Three Tunisians accused of facilitating illegal immigration and being the smugglers of the fishing boat Abouamer, carrying 31 people, have remained in prison in Agrigento. The judge Stefano Zammuto has validated their arrest, carried out by the mobile team of the Police Headquarters and by the Coast Guard and the Financial Guard. The boat, which departed from Tunisia, was intercepted south of Lampedusa after transferring the refugees onto a rubber dinghy. The three suspects, aged 51, 38, and 24, have been placed in pre-trial detention. According to the Prosecutor’s Office of Agrigento, it was a “luxury trip” for migrants, with a high level of security, and the travelers paid more than double the usual fee. The arrests were confirmed by the judge for preliminary investigations on August 16th. The police operation began on August 12th, following a distress call reporting the presence of a boat with migrants in the waters south of Lampedusa. The Coast Guard and Frontex found the fishing boat with the 31 migrants and three crew members, as well as two motorless tenders being towed by the boat. The presence of two outboard motors normally used on small boats, the good health of the migrants, incompatible with those undertaking “journeys of hope” by sea, and the poor quality of the two small dinghies found alongside the fishing boat suggested that the migrants had not traveled independently. In fact, some videos found on the migrants’ smartphones confirmed that they had traveled aboard the Tunisian fishing boat from the beginning. Subsequent investigations at the Lampedusa hotspot, conducted by the mobile team of Agrigento and the finance officers of the maritime operational section and the Lampedusa station, under the coordination of the Agrigento Prosecutor’s Office, allowed the hypothesis of a well-planned conduct by the Tunisian fishing boat, aimed at unloading migrants onto smaller boats near the waters of Lampedusa, pretending to provide assistance and activating the rescue services. Therefore, all members of the crew of the Tunisian fishing boat, who had previously been transferred to Agrigento by a Coast Guard naval unit, remain in prison and will be sent to the Petrusa prison.

Agrigento, il gip tiene in carcere i tre scafisti: così è stato bloccato il «viaggio di lusso» sul peschereccio tunisino

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