Rome: A Tunisian people smuggler who survived one of the worst migrant boat disasters in the Mediterranean was given an 18-year jail sentence on Wednesday.
A court in Agrigento, Sicily found Khaled Bensalem, 36, guilty of trafficking and of having contributed to the ship catching fire and capsizing just off the outlying Italian island of Lampedusa in October 2013.
At least 366 people died in the accident which caused an international outcry over the plight of migrants trying to reach Europe by sea and led to the launch of Italy`s search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum, which has since been succeeded by a multi-national mission.
At the time, the Lampedusa tragedy was the worst of its kind but it has since been surpassed by incidents such as the April sinking of a crowded fishing boat in which about 800 people are feared to have died. The Italian navy is currently in the process of recovering bodies from that ship.