The Public Prosecutor of Catania determined the arrest and ordered the precautionary detention of the defendants. The Judge for Preliminary Investigations of Catania confirmed such order. On 9 June 2014, in review (“sede di riesame”), the Court of Catania partially confirmed the decision of the Judge for Preliminary Investigations (Nº. 1105/2014). Specifically, it upheld it regarding migrant smuggling, annulled it in respect of the crime of “causing the wrecking of a vessel” and requalified “voluntary homicide” into “death or harm resulting from other crime” (Article 586 Criminal Code). The Court of Catania found no sufficient evidence that the defendant had purposely tampered with the engine. On the one hand, migrants had given conflicting statements in that respect and no one had actually seen the defendant manipulating the motor of the vessel. On the other, there would be no need for the engine to be hampered for a rescue operation to be triggered. Against this background, the death of the migrants should be understood as an unwanted consequence of facilitating irregular migration. The Public Prosecutor appealed, arguing that the precarious conditions of the vessel transporting the migrants should be enough to justify an indictment for “causing the wrecking of a vessel” and voluntary homicide. In the view of the prosecution, the (i) conditions of the vessel, (ii) number of migrants on board, (iii) circumstances of the trip, (iv) helming inexperience of the de defendant, made predictable and very realistic the risk of harm to the life of migrants and the sinking of the vessel.
Corte Suprema di Cassazione