Two high-ranking Italian officials were indicted for their alleged role in the deaths of hundreds of refugees who tried to reach Italy by boat in October, 2013.
Migrants sit in a boat as they are transferred to a Maltese navy boat after being stranded for two weeks at sea, August 23, 2019. (Photo: VCG)
Including at least 60 children, about 268 people died in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Italy on October 11, 2013, because Italian and Maltese authorities allegedly waited hours to respond to emergency calls when the vessel housing the hundreds sank slowly.
It was one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks since the asylum-seeker crisis in Europe began in 2011.
At present, Leopoldo Manna of the Italian coastguard and Luca Licciardi of its navy face charges of manslaughter and negligence.
The men's trial will find out whether they delayed launching rescue operations and whether it's the delays that caused the disaster.
Acknowledging the trial cannot bring the dead back to life, Arturo Salerni, the lawyer of the victim's relatives, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that for the families, however, reconstructing those terrible hours is a form of justice.
It's said that the victims' families hoped to see the two officials receiving punishment and get reparations for what they lost.
Manna's defending lawyer Luca Ciaglia was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that Malta made mistakes and sent wrong and contradictory communications to Italy, which made Italian authorities impossible to assess how dangerous the situation was and do what the Maltese authorities asked them to do.
It's reported that most of the victims are Syrians fleeing their war-torn home country.
The trial reportedly could last many months and was believed to shed a light on practices in relation to rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
It's estimated that at least 19,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea since 2014.