Kent

Channel migrants: People-smugglers jailed after woman dies

Migrants in an inflatable dinghy Image copyright AFP/Marine Nationale
Image caption French authorities released this photo of migrants intercepted by coastguards in August

Two men have been jailed over a people-smuggling operation that led to the death of an Iranian woman in the Channel as she tried to reach the UK.

The 31-year-old was among three who went overboard from an inflatable boat which ended up without fuel and oars before it was rescued, AFP reported.

The woman, who investigators called Mitra M, had a masters in psychology.

The men behind the operation were jailed in France for three and six years for manslaughter and smuggling.

A court in Boulogne-sur-Mer heard Mitra had tried to make the crossing with 19 Iraqi and Iranian migrants, including seven children, on 9 August.

Her body was found more than a week later on a beach in The Netherlands.

She was 15 miles from Ramsgate on the Kent coast when she went into the water, the BBC has previously reported.

Her death was believed by the French authorities to be the first death of a migrant trying to cross the Channel by boat.

Data from the French maritime authority said just over 2,500 migrants have tried to follow the same route this year.

According to AFP, the 31-year-old Afghan man and 44-year-old Dutchman from Guinea bought eight boats and allowed 84 people to attempt the crossing over two months.

At Wednesday's hearing, a prosecutor estimated that with about 20 migrants on board each boat, each crossing could fetch £50,000 per passage, adding that the pair had set out to "enrich themselves by taking advantage of human distress".

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