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People smugglers face jail for up to 17 years

Palermo prosecutors are seeking jail terms of up to 17 years for six alleged migrant smugglers in connection with a shipwreck off Lampedusa in October 2013, in which 366 people died.

People smugglers face jail for up to 17 years
A migrant grave in Lampedusa after the October 2013 shipwreck. Roberto Salomone/AFP

The six Eritreans, accused of racketeering and abetting illegal immigration, face sentences of between eight and 17 years if convicted, Ansa reported.

The overcrowded boat is thought to have capsized after one of the smugglers lit a fire on board to alert the Italian coast guard to their whereabouts, sparking panic among the hundreds of passengers.

Dozens of children also perished in the October 3rd 2013 tragedy.

Two other defendants, believed to have been the leaders of the human trafficking ring, are still at large.

Italy vowed to crack down on human traffickers in the wake of the tragedy, with investigators building their case around survivor testimonies and 30,000 wiretaps, which included conversations among the smugglers about the deaths of their passengers.

In one intercepted conversation, they blamed the migrants for the tragedy,”because they wanted to leave in great numbers”.

Meanwhile, a Somali trafficker who raped and attacked migrants he had led through the desert to Libya to make the perilous crossing to Italy was sentenced to 30 years in February. Mouhamud Elmi Muhidin, 34, was identified by several survivors of the October 2013 boat wreck.

FOOTBALL

Verona fined €20,000 for Matuidi racist abuse

Serie A club Verona have been fined €20,000 ($24,000) for racist chants by their fans toward Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi last weekend.

Verona fined €20,000 for Matuidi racist abuse
Juventus' midfielder Blaise Matuidi. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The abuse of the French international took place as he opened the scoring six minutes into the game which the six-time reigning champions won 3-1.

Sporting Judge Gerardo Mastrandrea ruled on Wednesday that Verona will also have to play one game without spectators in their Curva Sud (South End).

However, as it is the first time this season there have been racist chants the execution of the sanction to close the South End was suspended for a year.

“If during this period a similar violation is committed, the suspension will be revoked and the penalty will be added to that imposed for the new violation, in addition to the fine of €20,000,” a statement issued by the
league read.

Matuidi, 30, joined Juventus last summer from Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth an estimated 20 million euros.

Paulo Dybala also scored twice in the final 20 minutes of last Saturday's league game as Juventus stayed a point behind leaders Napoli.