Suspected people traffickers set for trial

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CAIRO: Eighteen suspects in two cases of illegal immigration in which more than 100 Egyptians drowned while trying to reach Europe are to go on trial, the public prosecutor said on Monday. The 18 are accused of involuntary homicide, fraud, despoliation of other people s property, navigating a fishing boat without a permit and illegally leaving Egyptian territory, public prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud said in a statement. Eight of the accused are in custody and the other 10 are still at large, the statement said. The suspects face the accusations over two separate incidents in which boats transporting Egyptians illegally foundered off the Italian coast in October and November. This month s shipwreck caused outrage when only 37 people of 184 passengers aboard survived the sinking. October s incident also claimed several lives. Newspapers urged the authorities to crack down on and punish people-trafficking gangs who charge LE 25,000 a head to smuggle people in search of a better life in Europe. The country s press says the phenomenon is because of rising unemployment and a low standard of living. According to the World Bank, more than four Egyptians in 10 live on less than $2 a day. -AFP

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