Syrian gets 145-year term for immigrant drownings

A criminal court on Rhodes has handed a 145-year prison sentence to a 21-year-old Syrian national after deeming him responsible for the death of 11 immigrants during a coast guard rescue operation off the eastern Aegean islet of Farmakonisi in January last year.

The court also fined the 21-year-old 570,000 euros after deeming that he had captained the vessel.

Defending himself in court, the Syrian argued that he had been a refugee too, and had paid a Turkish smuggler to be taken from Istanbul to Sweden.

Eleven immigrants from Afghanistan – eight women and three children – drowned on January 20 last year while a Greek coast guard vessel was towing their boat toward the eastern Aegean island of Farmakonisi.

At the time some witnesses had claimed that the coast guard vessel had towed the smuggling boat at an excessively high speed, prompting it to topple and the migrants to drown. The Syrian presented the same argument in court.

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