Tunisian Captain Of Migrant Boat That Sank In The Mediterranean, Killing Hundreds, Was Arrested


After outrage over the amount of deaths that have occurred on vessels carrying hundreds of migrants across the Mediterranean, Italian authorities announced a crew member and the captain of the Libyan migrant boat were arrested Monday. The Los Angeles Times reported they were arrested on human trafficking charges, while the Associated Press reported the prosecutors said they were charged with "favoring illegal immigration," and the captain was also charged with reckless multiple homicide. Between 700 and 900 people are believed to have died after the ship capsized with tons of migrants from Asia and Africa aboard. But there were 28 survivors — two of whom are believed to be the captain and a crew member, whose names are not yet available, though the captain has been identified as a Tunisian national, and the crew member is from Syria.

A ship carrying the survivors arrived in Sicily on Monday, the BBC reported. The survivors were questioned, and information came to light that hundreds of the passengers on board had been locked into the lower decks of the ship as it sank, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It's the latest in what some are calling the migrant boat crisis, as the European Union comes under heavy criticism for allegedly not adequately responding to the sheer number of migrant deaths that have occurred in the past few weeks alone. According to the Associated Press, two shipwrecks this week have killed approximately 1,300 people, and another 400 are reportedly dead from another on April 13.

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Accidents involving migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea are only getting worse. As violence increases in the Middle East, more and more citizens attempt to flee their home countries, only to board ships captained by smugglers.

The arrest of the surviving captain and the crew member is the first step toward truly cracking down on the smuggling of migrants into Europe, which has so often led to their deaths, if the number of shipwrecks reported in the past few years is any indication. Now that the issue has been brought to international attention with this high profile shipwreck, the EU has promised to work on the crisis through a series of measures, including strengthening its Triton patrolling service and seeking to implement a military mandate to "destroy people-smugglers' boats," as well as several other measures, according to the BBC. Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, said the package of measures shows a new sense of urgency in handling the crisis.

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