Turkish man sentenced in Italy for migrant shipwreck
According to Italian media reports on Wednesday, a Turkish citizen has been sentenced to 20 years in jail in Italy for his involvement in a migrant shipwreck last year, resulting in the deaths of at least 94 people.
A judge from the southern Italian town of Crotone also levied a 3 million euro ($3.2 million) fine on Gun Ufuk after convicting him of orchestrating a people smuggling operation that led to a tragic voyage last February.
Prosecutors alleged that Ufuk was navigating the boat, which departed from Western Turkey with approximately 180 people on board. The victims perished when the vessel broke apart in stormy weather off the coast of the town of Cutro in Italy's southern region.
Despite denying any wrongdoing and claiming he was onboard to escape political persecution in Turkey, Ufuk was apprehended in Austria last March after fleeing across the border from Italy.
He opted for a fast-track trial and received a sentence of 20 years, with the government's recent amendments imposing tougher penalties following the incident. Ufuk's lawyer, Salvatore Falcone, argued that his client was being made a scapegoat for the emergency services' inadequate response and plans to contest the verdict.