After a boat accident in Calabria: Meloni threatens smugglers with 30 years in prison

After a boat accident in Calabria
Meloni threatens smugglers with 30 years in prison

A refugee boat sinks off the coast of Calabria, 72 migrants die and three smugglers are arrested. Italy’s government rejects allegations of joint responsibility. Prime Minister Meloni is now drastically tightening prison sentences for people smugglers.

With drastic prison sentences, Italy wants to take action against people smugglers in the Mediterranean. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced after a meeting of the Council of Ministers that smugglers and backers would face prison sentences of up to 30 years if accidents involving fatalities occur during irregular crossings. The right-wing government in Rome was reacting to the boat accident off the coast of Calabria in which at least 72 migrants and refugees died at the end of February.

The cabinet meeting took place in Calabria.

(Photo: picture alliance /

Meloni had convened her cabinet in the town of Cutro, on the shore of which the accident took place. “We wanted to send a symbolic and concrete signal,” said Meloni about the meeting and the decree on the tightened criminal law for people smugglers. “I want to fight and defeat these people,” she said, calling Hauler the “dealer of death.” Meloni announced that the new catalog of penalties not only affects those smugglers and smugglers who are caught on Italian territory or in Italian waters, but worldwide.

Government denies responsibility for boat accident

At the weekend, Meloni denied that her government was responsible for the devastating boat accident off the coast of Calabria. “The situation is as simple as it is tragic: we have not received any emergency signals from the European border and coast guard Frontex,” said Meloni. She rejected allegations that the authorities had reacted too slowly: “We did everything possible to save lives after we were made aware of the problem,” said Meloni.

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi described the events of that night of February 25th to 26th in front of the Parliament in Rome on Tuesday and said that an emergency call was only received at the control center around 4 a.m. The emergency services were then alerted. For many adults and children on the boat, help came too late.

At the same time, the minister reported on the last moments before the sinking, citing statements from survivors: According to this, the smugglers saw light on land 200 meters before reaching the coast of the Calabria region and feared that police officers were waiting there. So they tried to make a sharp turn. However, the boat was reportedly driven onto shallow ground and damaged. water had entered.

Dublin Agreement: Rome under pressure in Brussels

Migrants reported that two smugglers then jumped into the sea. A third smuggler fled in a rubber dinghy and picked up the accomplices. At the same time, a wave caught the boat, which overturned and sank. When most of the rescuers reached the beach section of the village of Steccato di Cutro, many bodies of refugees and migrants had already been washed up. The suspected smugglers – a Turk and two Pakistanis – were arrested.

Italy is currently under pressure in Brussels because of its restrictive refugee policy. At a meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels, Germany and France accused the Meloni government of having unilaterally terminated the so-called Dublin Agreement. It obliges Rome to take back asylum seekers who have entered the EU via Italy.

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