Migrant boat massacre: Italy arrests five for murder of more than 100 'thrown overboard'

Fighting on deck caused by suffocating fumes reportedly saw migrants stabbed and thrown into the sea

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Wednesday 23 July 2014 18:24
Comments
An Italian navy motor boat approaches one of the many migrant boats making their way to Europe. This boat was found in June carrying almost 600 people.
An Italian navy motor boat approaches one of the many migrant boats making their way to Europe. This boat was found in June carrying almost 600 people.

Italian police have arrested five men on suspicion of murdering and throwing overboard more than 100 migrants as they attempted to cross from Africa to Europe.

Police said the survivors of the boat journey claimed they witnessed a massacre on board the vessel when their fellow passengers were assaulted and tossed into the sea.

The incident happened when the hull of the boat began to fill with poisonous fumes and people became unable to breathe. Panic ran through those below deck and a fight broke out as people tried to escape and find air.

To keep the migrants below deck, five men began stabbing and assaulting passengers at random before throwing the passengers overboard, and threatening others not to react or to suffer the same fate, police said.

“In a matter of minutes the heat became unbearable and the air was unbreathable due to the fumes from the motor,” police said in a statement. “Desperation drove the prisoners to force open the door and climb onto deck where the tragedy occurred.”

Police estimated that approximately 60 of the migrants were assaulted and thrown into the sea, while around 50 are thought to have been thrown straight out of the boat.

The bodies said to be thrown overboard have not been recovered.

The boat, which was thought to have held up to 600 migrants on board, the majority of whom were believed to be Syrian, was intercepted by Italian and Maltese authorities on Saturday, at which point 18 people were found dead in a tangled mass of bodies in the hull.

The dead were thought to have suffocated from the fumes emitted from the old boat’s engine, while one other person died on the way to hospital.

The five men; two Moroccans, a Saudi Arabian, a Syrian and a Palestinian, have been accused of carrying out the murders. They are expected to be assigned lawyers. Two more men have been charged for people smuggling.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in