The fatal explosion in Praialonga, two convictions and two acquittals in Crotone


By John

Two convictions and two acquittals. This is the decision adopted by the judge of the preliminary hearing of the Crotone court, Elvezia Cordasco, against four soldiers of the Financial Police accused for the death of four people following the explosion of a boat carrying migrants, which occurred on 30 August 2020 in the stretch of sea in front of the Praialonga area, in the Crotone area. At the conclusion of the abbreviated trial, the sentence of two years of imprisonment each, with suspended sentence, was inflicted on Captain Vincenzo Barbangelo (at the time commander of the naval operational section of Crotone of the Guardia di Finanza) and on Marshal Andrea Novelli (commander of the V817 patrol boat belonging to the Crotone naval section which intervened in the rescue). The sentences comply with the requests of the prosecutor, Pasquale Festa, for the crimes of shipwreck and multiple manslaughter. The preliminary hearing judge, however, ruled that no action should be taken against the two financiers Maurizio Giunta and Giovanni Frisella who boarded the migrants' boat to steer it and take it to port. The judge, in this case, did not accept the request of the prosecutor who had forwarded the indictment of Giunta for multiple manslaughter, excluding the shipwreck and, indeed, the acquittal of Frisella.

The explosion

The explosion of the Heaven boat occurred while the financiers were taking it to Crotone. The boat, with 20 migrants on board (another 13 had disembarked with a tender in Sellia Marina), was intercepted at 7.34 by the Catanzaro Lido Coast Guard. The operation was then taken over by the Financial Police who decided to take the boat towards the port of Crotone by bringing the financiers Giunta and Frisella on board. During navigation, the explosion occurred which caused four people to die: Omar Ali Osman, Abdirahman Nur Abdullahi and two unidentified people. According to the accusations, the four financiers committed negligence, imprudence and incompetence: the deaths could have been avoided if the people on board that sailing ship had been transferred to the naval units of the police forces. The two financiers on board the exploded ship were also injured, but despite this they saved several people who had fallen into the sea, as did Commander Novelli who dived from the patrol boat to rescue the migrants. For this reason, immediately after the incident, the soldiers of the Financial Police were given credit for the rescue, but a few days later they went from heroes to crime suspects.