Nearly 13 years after the drowning of over 170 Indian illegal immigrants near Malta in the Mediterranean sea, a Delhi court is all set to frame charges against 20 people including travel agents and two policemen allegedly involved in trafficking of the victims.
The immigrants, mainly hailing from various places in Punjab, had died in the icy waters off the Malta coast on December 25, 1996 after they were transferred from a ship, Yiohan, to an 18 feet-long boat in the Mediterranean sea.
Two policemen -- Jag Parvesh Chand and B S Meena -- against whom charges are likely to be framed were then posted with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and are accused of giving travel clearances without valid documents to the tragedy-struck passengers.
CBI had registered a case against 27 persons in 1997 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Immigration Act for cheating, forgery and human trafficking and during the pendency of the case, seven of them died.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Bansal directed that all the 20 accused who are on bail should appear before him on June 30 for framing of charges against them.
The case assumes importance as an Italian court recently awarded a 30-year jail term to Trab Ahmed Sheikh and Jarvodakiz, members of a gang involved in international human trafficking, after they were held guilty in the Malta boat tragedy.