First picture of migrant ship's 'killer captain': Tunisian skipper bites his nails as he is brought to shore to face charges of 'multiple manslaughter' after 900 perished on his capsized boat
- Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, has been charged with multiple manslaughter
- Arrived in Malta on Italian rescue ship with bodies of 24 migrant victims
- He was arrested alongside his 26-year-old Syrian 'smuggler accomplice'
- Prosecutors say Malek crashed into ship which had come to its rescue
- Migrants then shifted position as result of collision, causing it to capsize
Biting his nails nervously, these are the first pictures of the migrant boat captain accused of killing 900 men, women and children in one of the worst maritime disasters since World War Two.
Tunisian skipper Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, was arrested when he stepped onto Sicilian soil last night, some 24 hours after his boat capsized in the Mediterranean.
Before leaving the Italian coastguard vessel, however, he was forced to watch the bodies of 24 victims of the tragedy being carried off the ship for burial on the island of Malta.
He was later charged with multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and aiding illegal immigration.
Prosecutors claim he contributed to the disaster by mistakenly ramming the overcrowded fishing boat into a merchant ship that had come to its rescue.
As a result of the collision, the migrants shifted position on the boat, which was already off balance, causing it to overturn.
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Nervous: Tunisian boat captain Mohammed Ali Malek (centre) bites his nails as he waits to disembark an Italian coastguard ship before being arrested over the deaths of 950 migrants who died when his ship sank
'Killer': Malek, 27, was arrested when he stepped onto Sicilian soil last night some 24 hours after his overcrowded boat capsized in the Mediterranean. He has been charged with multiple manslaughter
In the dock: Malek affords a smile alongside his alleged smuggler accomplice, a 26-year-old Syrian crew member named Mahmud Bikhit, who was also arrested and charged with 'favouring illegal immigration'
A police handout showing Mohammed Ali Malek (left) and Mahmud Bikhit (right) after their arrest in Malta
Malek was also pictured with his alleged smuggler accomplice, a 26-year-old Syrian crew member named Mahmud Bikhit, who charged with 'aiding illegal immigration.
Both men were to be put before a judge later today.
Catania prosecutor Giovanni Salvi's office stressed that none of the crew aboard the Portuguese-flagged King Jacob is under investigation in the disaster.
He said the crew members did their job in coming to the rescue of a ship in distress and that their activities 'in no way contributed to the deadly event.'
Meanwhile, the survivors were brought to a migrant holding center in Catania and were 'very tired, very shocked, silent,' according to Flavio Di Giacomo of the International Organization for Migration.
Most of the survivors and the victims appear to have been young men but there were also several children aged between 10 and 12, she added.
'We have not yet been able to ask them about this but it seems certain that many of them will have had friends and family who were lost in the wreck.'
Deep in thought: Malek stares in space while waiting to leave the rescue vessel. Survivors told how women and children died 'like rats in a cage' after being locked into the boat's hold by callous traffickers in Libya
They told yesterday how women and children died 'like rats in a cage' after being locked into the boat's hold by callous traffickers in Libya.
Some resorted to clinging to their floating corpses until Italian and Maltese coastguards came to rescue them in the dead of the night.
The coast guard, meanwhile, reported that it saved some 638 migrants in six different rescue operations on Monday alone.
On Tuesday, a further 446 people were rescued from a leaking migrant ship about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the Calabrian coast.
At talks in Luxembourg on Monday, EU ministers agreed on a 10-point plan to double the resources available to maritime border patrol mission Triton and further measures will be discussed at a summit of EU leaders on Thursday.
Victims: Malek watches some of the bodies being taken off the rescue ship for burial in Malta
Grim: Survivors said they resorted to clinging to floating corpses until coastguards came to their rescue
Relaxed: Malek grins on the desk of the Italian coastguard ship next to some of the migrant survivors
Critics say Triton is woefully inadequate and are demanding the restoration of a much bigger Italian operation suspended last year because of cost constraints.
The survivors, who hailed from Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Somalia, Eritrea and Bangladesh, were all recovering Tuesday at holding centres near Catania on Sicily's eastern coast.
Sunday's disaster was the worst in a series of migrant shipwrecks that have claimed more than 1,700 lives this year - 30 times higher than the same period in 2014 - and nearly 5,000 since the start of last year.
In that time nearly 200,000 migrants have made it to Italy, mostly after being rescued at sea by the Italian navy and coastguard.
Italian officials believe there could be up to one million more would-be immigrants to Europe waiting to board boats in conflict-torn Libya.
Many of them are refugees from Syria's civil war or persecution in places like Eritrea.
Others are seeking to escape poverty and hunger in Africa and south Asia and secure a better future in Europe.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott urged the EU to introduce tough measures to stop migrants attempting to make the perilous sea voyage from North Africa to Europe.
Mr Abbott, whose conservative government introduced a military-led operation to turn back boats carrying asylum-seekers before they reach Australia, said it was the only way to stop deaths.
Hardline: Tony Abbott, whose conservative government introduced a military-led operation to turn back boats carrying asylum-seekers before they reach Australia, said harsh measures are the only way to stop deaths
Haunted: Surviving immigrants who escaped the boat that capsized in the Mediterranean Sea killing up to 900 people appear deep in thought as they arrive in the Sicilian port city of Catania this morning
While Mr Abbott's controversial policy has proved successful, with the nation going nearly 18 months with virtually no asylum-seeker boat arrivals and no reported deaths at sea, human rights advocates say it violates Australia's international obligations.
His comments came as EU foreign and interior ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss ways to stem the flood of people trying to reach Europe.
Outlining his views on preventing the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, Mr Abbott told reporters: 'We have got hundreds, maybe thousands of people drowning in the attempts to get from Africa to Europe.'
The 'only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats', he added.
Yesterday, the Maltese Prime Minister declared a crisis, calling for EU countries to reinstate rescue operations.
He warned: 'A time will come when Europe will be judged harshly for its inaction when it turned a blind eye to genocide.
'We have what is fast becoming a failed state on our doorsteps and criminal gangs are enjoying a heyday.'
He estimated smugglers behind the doomed voyage from Libya to Europe would have made between €1million and €5million from selling desperate refugees spaces on the boat.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3048600/Pictured-Tunisian-skipper-bites-nails-alongside-Syrian-trafficker-return-shore-boat-capsized-killing-900-migrants.html#ixzz3XxiftVok
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