Pateh Sabally, an African migrant, drowned in the Grand Canal in Venice. The drowning man was filmed by tourists and locals who watched him drown from nearby boats.
Sabally, a 22-year-old young migrant from Gambia, was seen jumping into the water from a pier and swimming to the middle of the large canal. At least three life saving rings were thrown near him into the water but he refused to use them, raising speculation that he wanted to commit suicide.
Soon after the incident, the distressing video was posted on an Italian website.
Onlookers who were recording the incident can be heard yelling comments such as, “He is stupid. He wants to die.” Another man is heard saying, “Africa.” While a third one says, “Go on, go back home.”
People are also heard laughing in the video and one man can be heard saying, “Let him die at this point.”
Witness Abdul Sattar confirmed that the drowning had seemed to be a suicide, “He threw himself from the pier. At first I thought he slipped but when I saw they threw life buoys and saw that he refused, I realized that he had decided to call it quits.”
A taxi driver who also witnessed the scene said, “A young man threw himself into the water and two or three life jackets were thrown from the boat but he refused the help.”
Another witness added, “This is despair. I do not know the story of this guy. They have said he is African. Who knows what he's been through, how many seas and deserts he has crossed? And he came to die in the most beautiful city in the world.”
The dead body of the migrant was pulled out of the water wrapped in blue bag and tied to a ladder. Italian magistrates have opened an investigation into the incident.
More than 181,000 migrants arrived in Italy by boat in 2016, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, an increase of almost 18 percent compared with 2015.
Recently, Italy called for mass migrant deportations of half a million refugees. Police were told to toughen up on refugees in 2017. The decision came in wake of the recent terror attacks in Europe. Under new rules, Italy will open 16 detention centers for migrants, where those detained will stay until deportation can be arranged.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters