Larnaca criminal court on Thursday sentenced two men to three-and-half-years in prison having found them guilty of people smuggling.

The defendants, aged 42 and 47, will begin serving their sentence immediately.

The case relates to an incident occurring in July this year. On July 24 authorities spotted a boat floating at about 11 nautical miles off Cape Greco. On board were 58 irregular migrants – 46 men, three women and nine minors.

Marine police dispatched a vessel to rendezvous with the boat. The irregular migrants told police that earlier in the day they had set out from the coast of Tartus (Syria), using their phones to plot a course for Cyprus. The migrants said also they had all pitched in to buy the boat.

At the time, CID officers identified two persons on the boat, whom they arrested as the suspected smugglers.

The next day, July 25, the migrants’ boat began taking in water. Marine police brought the migrants ashore at Ayia Napa. The migrants were later transferred to the Pournara reception centre.