Cyprus Mail

Three Syrians sentenced for people smuggling

The central prison in Nicosia

The Famagusta Criminal Court has sentenced three men from Syria, aged 50, 37 and 32, after being found guilty for a number of offences concerning people smuggling.

The court sentenced the 37-year-old to 3.5 years for people smuggling, and the other two got 18 months each for aiding the illegal entry of third-country nationals.

The three were the operators of a boat with 24 other people that set out from Lebanon supposedly for Greece – but its engine failed off Cyprus and was caught in rough weather.

They were rescued off Cape Greco after one of the occupants phoned a friend in Larnaca and warned him that they were in danger of drowning.  He immediately alerted the rescue coordination centre.

One of the people smugglers, described as the head of the operation, abandoned the vessel in an inflatable boat, leaving the mostly women and children aboard to the mercy of the rough seas and windy conditions.

The survivors, most from the city of Tartous, told police they had paid $2,000 each for the journey, with children charged half that amount.

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