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Ibrahima Bah Found Guilty in Channel Migrant Deaths Case

Ibrahima Bah Found Guilty in Channel Migrant Deaths Case

Ibrahima Bah, a Senegalese migrant who piloted a boat in the English Channel, has been convicted of manslaughter for the deaths of four migrants who drowned when the vessel encountered trouble.

Bah had agreed to steer the dinghy in December 2022 in exchange for free passage, claiming he was coerced by violent smugglers to undertake the journey with over 43 other migrants.

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court also found Ibrahima Bah guilty of facilitating a breach of immigration law.

This marks the first instance where a migrant responsible for navigating an inflatable vessel has been held accountable for harm inflicted on other occupants, according to the BBC’s home and legal correspondent, Dominic Casciani.

Ibrahima Bah testified that he reconsidered piloting the boat upon reaching the French coast and realising its unsuitability for the number of passengers. Despite this, he alleged being assaulted by smugglers and threatened with death if he didn’t proceed with the crossing.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC argued that, as the pilot, Bah owed the passengers a duty of care to ensure their safety, emphasising his failure to protect them from the perilous conditions.

Specialist prosecutor Libby Clark stated Bah could have turned back, as some passengers wished to do, but instead chose to continue the journey, suggesting his actions were not consistent with someone under duress.

Ibrahima Bah, whose exact age is disputed but was determined to be an adult by the court, awaits sentencing. He was found guilty by a majority verdict of four counts of gross negligence manslaughter and facilitating illegal entry to the UK. A previous trial ended in a hung jury.

The court heard that a British fishing boat crew, assisted by the RNLI, air ambulance, and UK Border Force, rescued 39 survivors from the sinking vessel. The exact number of casualties remains uncertain.

Clark described the crossing as almost certain to fail and criticised Bah’s lack of training or experience, coupled with the absence of safety equipment on the boat.

Bah disclosed to police his journey from Senegal to Italy via Mali, Algeria, Libya, and finally the English Channel, facilitated by smugglers.

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