Mediterranean Migrants Captain of capsized boat in which 750 people drowned appears in court

Prosecutors want to bring charges of causing a shipwreck, multiple first degree homicides and being accomplice to clandestine immigration against Malek.

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play The accused captain of the drowned migrant boat, Mohammed Ali Malek (BBC)
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The captain of the ill-fated migrant boat in which 750 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last week has appeared in court in Sicily, Italy.

BBC reports that prosecutors want to charge Mohammed Ali Malek, a 27-year-old Tunisian, with homicide and people-trafficking.

Survivors identified Malek as the captain of the boat who accidentally rammed the overloaded fishing boat into a merchant ship that had come to rescue it, according to prosecutors.

But Malek's lawyer says his client is keen to tell his story to prove his innocence to the court in Catania. They also say contrary to testimonies from some survivors, he was a migrant on the boat, not a smuggler, and believe Malek is being accused because he "was the only one with a lighter skin" that survived the shipwreck.

They also accuse another crew member, a 25-year-old Syrian named Mahmud Bihit, of being an accomplice to clandestine immigration.

Meanwhile, one of the 28 survivors has given nearly five hours of testimony while 3 others are due to speak later.

For now though, formal charges haven't been brought against either party and judges will decide at today Friday's hearing whether to file formal charges.



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