Two alleged human smugglers on trial over Aylan Kurdi’s death
MUĞLA – The Associated PressTwo alleged people-smugglers are on trial in Turkey accused of causing the death of 3-year-old Syrian migrant boy Aylan Kurdi and four other people.
The image of the boy - his lifeless body lying face down on a beach in Bodrum - galvanized world attention on the refugee crisis, graphically illustrating the magnitude of the suffering and the treacherous journeys the migrants risk.
The trial against Syrian nationals Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad opened in the Aegean resort of Bodrum on Feb. 11. The two face up to 35 years in prison each if convicted of the charges of human smuggling and causing the deaths of five people “through deliberate negligence.”
Aylan’s brother and mother also drowned in the ill-fated journey from Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos.
Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and the European Union member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has come to be a transition point for foreign migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU in an endeavor to flee the violence in Iraq and Syria, as well as have a higher standard of living.
The wave of migration across the Aegean Sea, however, has sometimes resulted in injuries and even deaths due to either the capsizing of migrant-carrying boats or abuse of migrants by human traffickers.
The number of migrants saved after making failed attempts to cross via the sea from Turkey into Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to last year.
In 2014, the number of migrants rescued by Turkey’s coast guard and local institutions was 14,961, in 574 separate incidents, according to Prime Ministry figures.
So far this year, the number is 79,489 migrants in 2,133 incidents. In addition, more than 200 smuggling gangs have been targeted in security operations launched by the authorities over the last two years.