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Italy arrests Somali man over Lampedusa shipwreck tragedy

Italian police have arrested a 24-year-old Somali man accused of being a trafficker involved with the migrant boat that sank last month in a tragedy that claimed 366 lives, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

ROME // Italian police have arrested a 24-year-old Somali man accused of being a trafficker involved with the migrant boat that sank last month in a tragedy that claimed 366 lives, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

The man was arrested on the island of Lampedusa where the shipwreck took place and “was one of the organisers”, a spokeswoman for police in Palermo in Sicily, which handled the operation, said.

She declined to say whether the man was among the 155 survivors of the disaster who were plucked from the waters on October 3 after the fishing boat caught fire, capsized and sank near the shore.

Italian media reported that the man was identified by the migrants in interviews with prosecutors and that he is also accused of sexual assaults.

Another man, the boat’s 35-year-old Tunisian captain Khaled Bensalam, was detained immediately after the tragedy on charges of manslaughter.

More details were due to be released later on Friday by anti-mafia prosecutors who have handled the investigation into the trafficking ring.

A Palestinian man has also been arrested on Lampedusa for suspected people trafficking over his role in organising a Syrian migrant boat landing as part of a separate investigation, the police said.

Italian authorities have vowed to crack down on the people trafficking rings that have been behind the influx of more than 35,000 asylum-seekers so far this year to the country’s coasts.

* Agence France-Presse

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