Santa Cruz de Tenerife (EFE).- The Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has sentenced each of the four skippers of a canoe that was found in the surroundings of El Hierro to six and a half years in prison, after a journey in which 30 people perished.
The sentences add up to four years for a crime against the rights of foreigners and two and a half years for four other reckless homicides and ten injuries, for the skippers of one of the most tragic trips recorded in recent years on the route to Canary Islands.
Of the 49 initial travelers, 19 arrived in the Canary Islands alive and four were dead.
The boat left the African coast in the last days of March 2021 with a forecast of a journey of about five days, as they told the immigrants, who paid around 800 euros, although in the end it lasted for 19.
During the trip, the four convicts were in charge of assuming tasks such as distributing and rationing food and drink, bringing order among the travelers crowded in a canoe 14 meters long and two meters wide, or directing the boat and the GPS.
The ship was powered by two engines, one of which broke within a few days, and by then the gasoline, food, and drink also ran out.
The immigrants exposed themselves to an obvious health risk due to the pandemic situation that was experienced at that time, without security measures or masks.
They lacked life jackets, troubleshooting tools, positioning lights, locating instruments, or means to protect themselves from the sun, wind, and rain.
On April 11, the 23 passengers, of whom four were corpses, were located and rescued by a Maritime Rescue vessel, with multiple injuries, such as kidney failure from drinking sea water, dehydration and other types of sequelae, some of which they took up to 80 days to heal.
There are doubts about whether one of the immigrants was thrown into the sea alive or whether he jumped voluntarily when he lost his temper at the desperate situation they were enduring.
During the investigations and in the trial, some of the participants in the voyage identified the defendants as those responsible for the boat, and recounted the difficulties with which they made the trip.
Those now convicted were those in the best state of health, for which reason it is suspected that they had their own food and drink, and 25 mobile phones were found that were presumed to be the property of the deceased thrown into the sea.
“The authors take advantage of the vulnerability of the victims who, in the hope of achieving a better life, dare to enter the game of people who are unscrupulous and who do know what the passengers are going to face,” it is indicated. in the sentence.
It is added that immigrants are charged very high amounts of money for the resources available to them and “play with life, with health, and with their expectations of arriving in Europe deceived into thinking that they will reach the promised land. Nothing further.”
The sentence is appealable before the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands (TSJC), so if there is no final ruling beforehand, the four convicted would be released in July 2024, which is when the provisional prison period ends. EFE