People smuggler convicted for eight years for manslaughter
A Moroccan people smuggler who transported migrants to the Canary Islands has been jailed for eight years and ordered to pay more than €160,000 in compensation to the families of the deceased after being found guilty of double manslaughter and crimes against foreign citizens.
Abdallah Wazri, 29, a Moroccan citizen, had packed 30 people which including 11 women and three young girls into his boat, which was 5.5 metres long and 2.5 metres wide, for the five-day journey from northern Morocco to the Canary Islands in May 2019, each person had paid €1000 for the journey.
A one-year-old baby girl and a middle-aged woman drowned, while another female passenger also suspected of drowning was never been found. The travellers onboard were a mixture of Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans, during the voyage of 5 days they were crammed onto the boat without enough provisions or water and the vessel did not have sufficient life jackets for all the people on board.
The court in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria noted that the boat was “fragile, unstable, inappropriate for a journey of several days and unsuitable for transporting such a large number of people”.
According to the judgment, as the boat neared the port of Arguineguín in Gran Canaria on the night of 16 May 2019, “the captain performed a hurried and risky manoeuvre to bring the boat to shore, which led the boat to hit a rock and several people to fall into the sea”. The captain then abandoned the boat with the migrants aboard and jumped into the sea and swam to shore. Wazri was picked up two weeks later in La Palma by police.
During the trial witness and police, testimonials painted a grim picture of life on board the vessel, with not enough space to move around, and generally horrendous travel conditions.
“in statements, it was found during the journey people were piled on top of each other, unable to move and left without supplies, which were scarce and which soon ran out,”
The guilty verdict came from Wazri’s fatal manoeuvre – “whether brought about by clumsiness, tiredness and/or haste” – it had led to the death of at least two people.
This news comes when this year has seen extremely high numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Canary Islands with nearly 5000 arrivals in October alone.
According to figures over 11,000 people have arrived in the Canaries since January this year with an estimated 414 deaths on route compared to last year, just 2,557 migrants arrived on the Islands with 210 deaths.