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Sicilian police investigate murder on migrant boat
The body of the man was found on a rubber dinghy along with 102 African migrants. File photo: HO/Italian Navy/AFP

Sicilian police investigate murder on migrant boat

Published: 08 May 2014 16:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 May 2014 16:57 GMT+02:00

The victim, who is 25 years old and from Eritrea, died after allegedly being struck on the back of the neck by people smugglers.

His body was retrieved by rescuers from the Strait of Sicily on Wednesday from a rubber dinghy with some 102 migrants on board from Eritrea, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan travelling from Libya.

According to reports, the other migrants on board stopped the smugglers from throwing the man’s body overboard.

The rest of the migrants on board the dinghy disembarked at Pozzallo, Ragusa, along with 289 other migrant arrivals.

The migrants were rescued as part of Italy's "Mare Nostrum" (Our Sea) operation, launched last October, which plucks people from floundering vessels in the Mediterranean almost daily.

SEE ALSO: 'Italy must stop saving migrants' - ex-minister

Two men, 19-year-old Mamadu Jallew from Gambia and 24-year-old Khalifa Bangura from Sierra Leone, have been arrested and charged with smuggling the migrants from Libya.

They will also be quizzed over the murder of the young man.

Meanwhile, the peril faced by the thousands of migrants who reach Italy's shores each year continues to hit headlines in Italy. 

In April an Italian MP slammed the treatment of migrants In Italy’s immigration reception centres after a young man from Gambia died at a centre in Sicily.

That same month, Save the Children criticized Italy for failing to protect unaccompanied migrant minors, saying over half the number of people arriving on boats in the days before it made its statement had fled the system and risked exploitation.

On April 9th, Italy said that 4,000 immigrants had reached its shores by boat in the past two days - the highest number since it launched a naval operation to rescue them in the wake of two shipwrecks last year.

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