Turkey tries alleged smugglers over Aylan Kurdi’s death

Alleged smugglers who caused death of Aylan Kurdi appear in court on grounds that their actions led to three-year-old toddler’s death along with four other refugees

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish gendarmeries escort one of the suspects, who has been arrested for allegedly causing deaths of five refugees including Aylan Kurdi, in Turkey‘s western province Mugla on Feb. 11, 2016.

Updated Feb 12, 2016

Two alleged people smugglers went on trial on Thursday [February 11] in Turkey's coastal resort of Bodrum in the Mugla province for causing the death of three-year-old toddler, Aylan Kurdi.

Kurdi, his brother, mother, along with several other refugees drowned in the Aegean Sea as they were trying to reach Greece via boat in September 2015.

A photograph of Kurdi's tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf, appeared in newspapers around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.

Two Syrian men, accused of smuggling migrants to Europe, appeared in court and six people, including four Turks, are on the run, Turkish local media has reported.

The defendants, identified as Asem Alfrhad and Muwafaka Alabash, claimed that the father of Aylan Kurdi, Abdullah Kurdi, was working with the smugglers and driving the flimsy boat that capsized while trying to reach Greece during the hearing, according to Turkish media accounts.

Kemal Ertugrul, who is Alabash's lawyer, said the two men were victims and the real people smugglers were at large.

"The truth is the organisers are never caught. Many of those who are on trial as defendants are actually victims of these incidents,” Ertugrul claimed.  

“My client is also a Syrian man and he is a victim. He is currently an illegal migrant along with his relatives," Ertugrul stated.

The suspects could face up to 35 years in prison if they are found guilty on accusations of human smuggling and involuntary manslaughter.

Shortly after the incident, several passengers on the boat told Reuters that Aylan's father drove the capsized boat.

However, Kurdi told British media that the accusations were not true.

Abdullah Kurdi's relatives had said that they wanted to emigrate to Canada after fleeing the war-torn town of Kobani, in northern Syria.

Kurdi, whose two sons and wife drowned, returned to Kobani after the incident.

TRTWorld, Reuters