Aylan Kurdi 'people smugglers' put on trial accused of causing death of Syrian three-year-old

The men are accused of causing the death of the Syrian child, whose body later washed up on the coast sparking an international public outcry

Adam Withnall
Thursday 11 February 2016 10:37 GMT
Images of Aylan Kurdi after he washed up on a Turkish beach led to an international outcry
Images of Aylan Kurdi after he washed up on a Turkish beach led to an international outcry (AP)

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Two alleged people smugglers have been put on trial charged with causing the death of Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey last year sparking a reaction to the refugee crisis around the world.

The men, both Syrian nationals, face up to 35 years in prison if they are found guilty on charges of human trafficking and manslaughter.

Aylan was travelling with his father, mother and brother Galip from Bodrum in Turkey to the Greek island of Kos when their boat capsized.

The images that followed, showing the small boy lying face down in the sand, galvanised a huge reaction to the crisis of people risking their lives fleeing conflict areas to reach Europe.

The two men, Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad, opened in the Aegean seaside town of Bodrum on Thursday. They are accused of causing the deaths of five people, including Aylan, "through deliberate negligence".

Aylan and his family had fled the northern Syrian town of Kobani, which was periodically besieged by Isis militants throughout 2014 and 2015.

After a period living in Turkey with the hope of returning to their hometown, the family made two failed attempts to travel through Europe to Canada, where Aylan's aunt Tima Kurdi lived in Vancouver.

The crossing which killed all of the family except the father, Abdullah Kurdi, was their third attempt. Abdullah has described how the family paid a combined €4,000 (£2,900) to people smugglers for places on a small dinghy.

They began the crossing at night - but when the sea became too rough for the small vessel, the people smugglers allegedly abandoned it, leaving the passengers to try and steer it on their own.

The boat soon capsized, throwing the refugees into the sea. “I was holding my wife’s hand,” Mr Kurdi has said.

“My children slipped away from my hands. We tried to hold on to the boat. Everyone was screaming in pitch darkness.”

When the images of Aylan first began circulating on social media on 2 September last year, The Independent took the editorial decision to publish the most shocking versions in full.

The campaign which followed helped force the Government to do more to take in Syrian refugees, and just five days later David Cameron announced 20,000 more places would be found.

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