People trafficker jailed for deaths of 37

16th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 November 2004, CADIZ - A court handed down a 40-year jail term to a Moroccan national for his role in the drowning of 37 would-be immigrants.

16 November 2004

CADIZ - A court handed down a 40-year jail term to a Moroccan national for his role in the drowning of 37 would-be immigrants.

The court found 25-year-old Hamid Echokhch guilty of culpable homicide for having helped to arrange illegal passage to Spain for the African immigrants, who drowned when their makeshift vessel went down off the southern Spanish coast on 25 October last year.

The court also ruled that Echokhch, who was arrested three days after the tragedy, should pay EUR 90,000 (USD 115,000 ) in compensation to the families of the victims following the worst loss of life off the Spanish coast.

Every year thousands of would-be immigrants attempt perilous sea crossings to Spain from Africa but this year alone 101 have died or are listed as missing after their fragile crafts overturned.

According to the ruling, Echokhch "placed himself at the service of" the makeshift vessel's captain, who has yet to be identified, and persuaded him to set off on the precarious voyage.

The court found that the accused, along with the skipper of the vessel, were reckless in refusing the help of a merchant vessel, the Focs Tenerife, which went to try to help.

After surviving the disaster Echokhch was caught as he tried to flee to Morocco, having given a false name to investigators.

A handful of survivors who survived the drama testified against the accused and the court ruled there was sufficient evidence to convict him.

The prosecution had called for a 117-year sentence against Echokhch, who will serve a minimum of nine years.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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