Two alleged smugglers of migrants went on trial in Turkey Thursday, accused of causing the death of a Syrian toddler and four other people in September.
The Turkish Dogan news agency reported that the trial of Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad, both Syrian nationals, opened at the criminal court in the country’s western resort town of Bodrum.
The two men are charged with human smuggling and causing the deaths of five people “through deliberate negligence.” If convicted, they face up to 35 years in prison.
The picture of the lifeless 3-year-old, Aylan Kurdi, lying face down on a Turkish beach shocked the world and increased awareness of the refugee crisis and the magnitude of suffering, the lives destroyed and perilous journeys it encompassed.
A Turkish police officer stands next to a migrant child's dead body (Aylan Kurdi) off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on Sept. 2, 2015 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos.
Aylan's brother, five-year-old Galip, and their mother Rihan were among five victims who drowned when their boat capsized on the way from Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos. Alyan’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, survived and is believed to be outside of Turkey.
They were among hundreds of thousands who took the risk to reach Greece in the hope to be able to travel farther north for a better life in the prosperous countries of northern and western Europe.
Despite the risks, the influx of migrants has continued this year at a much higher rate.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said earlier this week that 409 fatalities were recorded among migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the first six weeks of 2016, while the new arrivals passed 76,000 people, nearly 2,000 per day, which is 10 times the rate of the same period last year.
Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.