Five arrested for murder of over 100 migrants at sea

Police said that to keep mirgrants below deck, the men stabbed and assaulted passengers at random, throwing them overboard and warning others not to react or suffer the same fate.

The lower decks of a small fishing boat held several bodies belonging to migrants who died from suffocation.
The lower decks of a small fishing boat held several bodies belonging to migrants who died from suffocation.

Italian authorities have arrested five men on suspicion of stabbing over 100 migrants packed into a small fishing vessel and then throwing them overboard.

The boat, thought to have been carrying up to 600 migrants, was intercepted by Maltese and Italian authorities, who found a tangle of bodies on the lower deck.

Panic broke out on the lower deck as fumes from the motor made it hard for passengers to breathe. Fighting broke out as those trapped below struggled to get out and find fresh air.

Police said that to keep mirgrants below deck, the men stabbed and assaulted passengers at random, throwing them overboard and warning others not to react or suffer the same fate.

Police estimated that approximately 60 of the migrants were assaulted and thrown into the sea, while around 50 are thought to have been thrown straight out of the boat.

The bodies said to be thrown overboard have not been recovered.

The five men; two Moroccans, a Saudi Arabian, a Syrian and a Palestinian, have been accused of carrying out the murders. They are expected to be assigned lawyers. Two more men have been charged for people smuggling.

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