CAIRO, July 10 (AP) – A court in eastern Libya has sentenced five people to life in prison for human trafficking after 11 migrants died on a rickety boat trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. the chief prosecutor said on Monday.
Al-Bayda City Court also sentenced nine other defendants to 15 years in prison each, the office of Attorney General al-Sediq al-Sourr said in a statement. Another 24 people were jailed for a year, the statement added.
The report said the defendants were part of a network that smuggled migrants from Libya to Europe. The statement did not say when the fatal sinking occurred or provide further details.
The court ruling is the latest against human traffickers in the conflict-torn North African country. Another court in the capital Tripoli sentenced one defendant to life in prison and the other two to 20 years each for human trafficking, the chief prosecutor’s office said on Friday.
In recent years, Libya has become a major transit point for Middle Eastern and African migrants fleeing conflict and poverty to seek a better life in Europe. The oil-rich country was thrown into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Gaddafi in 2011.
Human traffickers have benefited from instability in Libya, smuggling migrants from six countries including Egypt, Algeria and Sudan. They then stuffed desperate people into poorly equipped dinghies and other boats and set out on a treacherous voyage across the central Mediterranean.
For years, the United Nations and human rights groups have condemned the inhuman conditions faced by trafficked and smuggled migrants in the Mediterranean region.
In March, UN-backed human rights experts said there was evidence of crimes against humanity committed by Libyans and migrants in Libya, including women forced into sex slavery. (Associated Press)
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