Italy arrests five for mass murder during boat crossing

The bodies of 18 people were found on board this overcrowded migrant boat by rescuers on July 19

(Reuters) – Italian police arrested five men on Tuesday on suspicion of murdering and throwing overboard dozens of migrants crossing from Libya. Another three were charged with smuggling the migrants.

Survivors told police a life-or-death fight broke out when those who were riding in the hold, suffocating from heat and lack of oxygen, desperately tried to find room on the packed deck.

To keep the migrants below the deck, the five men indiscriminately stabbed and assaulted an estimated 60 of their fellow migrants before throwing them overboard, according to police, and then threatening the others not to react or face the same end.

Twenty-nine bodies were later recovered from the hold of what had been a badly overcrowded fishing boat. Another passenger died en route to an Italian hospital, probably from carbon monoxide poisoning, the navy said this weekend.

The bodies of the migrants said to be thrown overboard have not been recovered…