A young man from Chad behind bars: Is this justice?


Ahmed, a young man from Chad was sentenced to 6 years and 8 months' imprisonment and a €1,200,000 fine as he was held responsible by the Italian state for the shipwreck of 11 November 2020.
More than a year has passed and after that shipwreck there have been other deaths and tragedies, making it difficult to remember. But a year ago, that shipwreck was on newspapers’ front pages for the death of a six-month-old child, Youssef. The video of the surviving mother’s desperate cries was published by the NGO 'Open Arms' to show a deaf Europe the voices of those who suffer from the abandonment in the Mediterranean.

In the following days, harsh accusations were made against Italian and European policies not interested in the legal entry and rescue of people forced to cross the sea. Instead of funding rescue ships, Europe seizes them. Instead of rescuing people, it abandons them to death. Ignoring the institutional responsibilities and away from the spotlight, the Agrigento public prosecutor's office was investigating a 21-year-old man. Indeed, when a six-month-old child dies, the indignation is high, and someone must end up in the dock. Who if not the 'boat driver', the scapegoat on whom Europe and Italy continue to shift responsibilities?

Ahmed was arrested on 27 November 2020 in Trapani. Additional to the charges of aggravated aiding and abetting unauthorized entry and death as a result of another crime, he has been charged with manslaughter. This last charge is mainly punitive, as the constitutive elements of the negligent shipwreck’s crime are already contested within the aggravating elements of aiding and abetting unauthorized entry. This means punishing Ahmed twice.

On 02 February 2022, the Court of Agrigento sentenced Ahmed to 6 years and 8 months imprisonment.
Ahmed was held as the solely responsible for the unsafe journey, the shipwreck and the losses. Those are too many responsibilities if we consider that it was not him who made a dangerous sea the only way to reach Europe; it was not him who gave up rescuing people in the Mediterranean, delegating the task to a few and criminalized NGOs.

But all this was not considered important.
Italy has its culprit.

Boat drivers support group
Arci Porco Rosso Palermo - Borderline Sicilia

translation by bordeline-europe

© Foto by Max van den Oetelaar via Unsplash