A 51-year-old man was on Wednesday sentenced to two years in prison after having been found guilty of captaining a boat full of irregular migrants which arrived in Cyprus in April.

The man had been found guilty of entering Cyprus illegally and assisting other third country nationals in illegally entering the country.

The boat he captained had a total of 25 people on board and arrived as part of a large-scale arrival of irregular migrants on the island who had set off from Lebanon during a period of warm weather and calm seas at the beginning of April.

The man’s boat had arrived on April 2, the day after more than 400 irregular migrants had arrived on the island in the space of 24 hours.

President Nikos Christodoulides had at the time said Cyprus was “in a state of crisis” and added that “some transitional decisions may need to be taken domestically, which will not be pleasant, but will be beneficial in the long run.”

Ten days later, he announced that the country would suspend its processing of asylum claims for application from Syrian nationals, adding that the decision had been taken in light of the “recent mass arrival of Syrian political asylum seekers by sea” to the island.

This announcement was subsequently walked back, with the government saying they would process asylum applications once the maximum time allowed before processing by the European Union, 21 months, has passed.

The following week, Christodoulides told the Editor Network Germany (RND) last month that “we are not in a position to take any more Syrian refugees. We are at our limit and can no longer cope with this flow of refugees.”

With this in mind, he made it clear that what was once a suggestion regarding Syria’s status is now a point of principle for his government, saying “we expressly demand that certain areas in Syria be classified as safe regions.”