Italy: Police arrest two suspected immigrant traffickers
Palermo, 14 August
Police in the southern region of Sicily have arrested an Algerian and a Nigerian on suspicion of trafficking illegal immigrants from Africa to Italy.
The Nigerian, Marey Ogbeide, on 3 August allegedly escorted 43 illegal immigrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa, lying between Sicily and Tunisia.
The Algerian, Binshieka Abdelhamidm, 46, was arrested in connection with the arrival of illegal immigrants on Lampedusa on 5 August.
A total 167 illegal migrants reached the island that day.
Coastguard overnight intercepted fifty illegal Algerian immigrants off the southern coast of Sicily.
The route from Algeria via Sardinia, has been gaining popularity with people traffickers in the last couple of years as it is less policed.
Italy recently approved a controversial new law targeting illegal immigrants with harsher penalties and swifter deportation procedures, following an election pledge by the new centre-right government to stop illegal immigration.
Illegal immigration is now treated as an “aggravating circumstance” under Italian law and is punishable with a custodial sentence of between six months and four years in prison.
The new Italian law extends the period of time for which illegal immigrants may be detained from two to 18 months.
Italy and other the southern European countries are the preferred arrival points for the tens of thousands of illegal migrants who each year reach its shores.
During the summer months, the numbers of illegal migrants crossing from North Africa rises and hundreds can arrive in a single day.