The suspect is accused of organising the dangerous crossing by a boat carrying 287 people from Libya. Most were suffering from the cold when they were rescued by the coast guard on January 25th.
Police in the Sicilian city of Agrigento said in a statement that the ordeal on the overcrowded, 16-metre boat ended “with the death, by hypothermia, of seven Bangladeshi citizens, due to the inhumane conditions of the voyage”.
The 38-year-old suspect, who was identified through witness testimony of survivors, had already been sentenced in a 2011 people-smuggling crime in Sicily, police said, without providing further detail.
Winter weather has not been a deterrent for migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year despite freezing temperatures and rough seas.
So far this year, some 10,570 migrants have reached Europe by sea, out of a total of 11,986, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Some 229 have died or gone missing in the attempt to reach the continent.