ROME, March 11, 2009 (AFP) – An appeals court in southern Italy sentenced a Pakistani shipowner to 30 years in prison for his role in the drowning deaths of 283 illegal immigrants more than a decade ago, ANSA reported Wednesday. Maltese resident Ahmed Sheik Turab, 48, was considered the organiser of a 1996 sea journey of some 400 immigrants from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka between Malta and Sicily.
After the group was transferred from one boat to another in open waters, the latter vessel began to leak and the majority of the illegals on board drowned.
According to survivors’ testimony, the smugglers did not call for help in what is considered one of the most tragic tales to date of illegal immigration in the Mediterranean region.
The same court sentenced a Lebanese skipper of one of the boats to 30 years in jail last April for homicide.