Italian police investigate possible murders of women found dead in Mediterranean

Photo credit: ANSA. Rescuers recover a dead body from the Spanish ship ‘Cantabria’ in the harbour of Salerno, Italy.

TMP – 01/12/2017

The bodies of 26 Nigerian teenage girls and women migrants who died as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean were found on 5 November, Italian police reported.
The bodies of the women were brought to the southern Italian port of Salerno by the Spanish ship Cantabria, a part of the EU’s Operation Sophia, which runs anti-trafficking operations in the Mediterranean. The Cantabria found 23 bodies in one shipwreck and three from another. Sixty people were rescued and 53 are believed to still be missing.
Marco Rotunno, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), said his colleagues were at the port in Salerno when the bodies were brought in. “It was a very tough experience,” he said. “One lady from Nigeria lost all her three children.”
Italian prosecutors immediately opened an investigation over suspicions that the women, assumed to have been aged between 14 and 18 years old, may have been abused and killed.

Rotunno added that 90 per cent of migrant women arrive with bruises and other signs of violence. “It’s very rare to find a woman who hasn’t been abused, only in exceptional cases, maybe when they are travelling with their husband. But also women travelling alone with their children have been abused.”
While Italian investigators have said there is no evidence yet that they were victims of sex trafficking, the UN says that 80 per cent of young Nigerian women arriving in Italy are already in the clutches of pimps or quickly fall into their traps.
Two men, believed to have been skippers for one of the boats, have been arrested and charged in Italy. The men, who were identified by survivors, are Al Mabrouc Wisam Harar from Libya and Mohamed Ali Al Bouzid from Egypt.