The skipper of a migrant boat in court in Palma. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

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The skipper of a migrant boat from Algeria that arrived in Cabrera in June has been sentenced to four years in prison by the Provincial Court in Palma.

The court's conclusion was that "this was not a simple clandestine transfer of people from Africa". "The crossing was made at night, in a boat that lacked lighting and safety elements. It was overcrowded with immigrants (fifteen) and there were gasoline drums in a position that could have exploded or caught fire." The risk to the lives of the migrants was "obvious".

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The 37-year-old was arrested on June 8 by the Guardia Civil after the radar system detected the boat near Cabrera. That day another four boats arrived. In Palma, the National Police immigration unit questioned the migrants. One was made a protected witness. He will be able to 'regularise' his situation in Spain in exchange for the information about the skipper, which was corroborated by photos of the journey. In these, he was always seen at the helm. Another man was guiding the boat with a GPS. He is wanted by the police.

The police and the Prosecutor's Office have intensified criminal prosecution of these skippers. Around thirty have been arrested in recent months. There have been different outcomes. Two were acquitted because of doubts about witness evidence. In another case, a four-year sentence was handed down. On Friday, two others will be tried.