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Egyptian court jails 56 over refugee boat shipwreck

An Egyptian court sentenced 56 people to prison terms of up to 14 years on Sunday over the capsizing of a boat that killed over 200 people, one of the deadliest disasters in the dangerous Mediterranean crossings of migrants to Europe.

The boat capsized off the Egyptian coast on September 21, 2016. Rescue workers and fishermen rescued at least 169 people, but at least 202 died.

Fifty-seven people faced charges including causing the accidental death of 202 passengers, not using sufficient rescue equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding suspects from authorities and using a vessel without a license. One woman was acquitted.

The boat sank in the Mediterranean off Burg Rashid, a village in Egypt’s northern Beheira province where the sea and the Nile meet. It had been carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants and was believed to be heading for Italy.

One month after the boat sank Egypt’s parliament passed legislation setting prison terms and fines for those found guilty of smuggling migrants, acting as brokers or facilitating migrants’ journeys.

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