Man Rescued From Channel Migrant Boat Faces Manslaughter Charges

October 30, 2020 Updated: October 30, 2020

One of the 22 people rescued from the migrant boat that sank in the Channel this week has been indicted on manslaughter charges, according to local media reports.

The Dunkirk prosecutor said that the 37-year-old Iranian man had been identified by other passengers as being at the helm of the semi-inflatable, which capsized on Oct. 27 off the French coast.

The prosecutor said the man had tried to pass himself off as just another passenger, according to France 3, but other passengers said he was close to the smuggling gang.

He has been indited on seven manslaughter—involuntary homicide—charges, as well as charges relating to endangering the life of others and involvement in organized trafficking, reported La Croix.

The charges carry a potential sentence of ten years imprisonment.

He has not been named in the reports.

The overloaded boat capsized on the morning of October 27 after setting out for the English coast in unfavourable conditions.

Three of the passengers, including a one-year-old baby, have not been recovered. They are assumed to be dead.

migrant boat
An empty immigrant dinghy floats off the beach at St. Margaret’s Bay after the occupants landed from France in Dover, England, on Sept. 11, 2020. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

According to France 3, the magistrate handling the investigation will shift to the objective of dismantling the smuggling network upstream.

The incident was the most deadly disaster yet in the upsurge of migrant crossings in the Channel over the last two years.

This year, 7,400 people have so far made the crossing—six times the number last year.

In 2018, just 299 people made the crossing, according to Home Office figures.

During the summer this year, with warmer water and calmer seas, on some days hundreds of people were making made the 21-mile journey through the busiest shipping lane in the world.

More people made the crossing in September than in the whole of the previous year.

Although no official statistics exist for illegal immigrant numbers, channel crossings appear to make up only a small proportion of illegal immigration routes.

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