A court in Turkey sentenced three men to 125 years in prison each over the 2015 drowning of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi whose death became a tragic symbol of the refugee crisis in Europe as a result of conflicts in Syria and the wider region after a harrowing image of the baby face-down on a Turkish beach went viral online.
The men, who were part of a human trafficking ring, were detained by Turkish police early last week in the southern province of Adana and sentenced on Friday according to Anadolu Agency. Three-year-old Kurdi was one of 14 Syrian refugees, including eight children, who took a boat on the Aegean Sea destined for the Greek islands. His body washed up on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, after their boat sank.
The men, identified as Cebrail E, Ecevit Bulent G and Ali Can. S, were sentenced by the Bodrum High Criminal Court for “killing with eventual intent” although their exact role in the death of Kurdi hasn’t been confirmed. They were reportedly on the run having fled during their trial. Other Turkish and Syrian nationals have also received prison sentences.
More than 6.7 million Syrians have fled the country since the 2011 outbreak of the civil war, most of whom sought refuge in neighbouring Turkey. Recently the refugee crisis has been exacerbated following the Turkish government’s decision to “open the gates” and allow migrants and refugees to cross the border into EU-member state Greece as a result of Europe’s lack of support for it.