Six Africans jailed for human trafficking in landmark trial

An Italian court on Monday jailed six Eritreans for human trafficking in landmark ruling that recognised the existence of a criminal organisation that trafficked human beings.

The court in Palermo handed the Africans sentences ranging from two years and four months to six years and four months in prison over a shipwreck off Lampedusa in 2013 which over 366 migrants drowned.

The Eritreans were tried in a fast-track trial, which in Italy means the sentences can't be appealed but are automatically reduced by a third if the defendants are found guilty.

The defendants were arrested in 2014 and belonged to a human trafficking gang which smuggled migrants to Europe from Libya via Italy.

One of the defendants became the first people smuggling suspect to turned state's witness. He received a five-year jail term.

Italian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for the gang's alleged leader, fugitive people trafficking multi-millionaire Ermis Ghermay who is believed to be in Libya.