Six Ghanaians have been confirmed dead in a religious row that saw about 12 Ghanaian and Nigerian migrants, thrown overboard on a vessel heading towards Italy, the Foreign Ministry has revealed.
The Foreign Minister, Hanna Tetteh posted on her Facebook page that only three names of the drowned Ghanaians had been identified by four survivors at a camp.
“These four survivors with 2 other Nigerians are the key witnesses for the prosecution. The 3 identified of the 6 drowned are: Nana Yaw, born in 1987., Kwasi Amankwa about 35 years and Kwadwo Asiedu estimated to be 21-years-old. The four survivors and key witnesses are: Emos Yeboah born on 25/9/1981. Kwadwo Kona Augustine 14/2/1989. Kwesi Agyeman 16/9/1989 and Osman Jamal 15/03/1996,” said the Minister.
She revealed that other Ghanaian nationals on the boat had reportedly been taken out of Palermo to other regions.
“We are expecting the location(s) to be indicated shortly so that the mission can get in touch with them as soon as they receive those details.”
According to her, interviews conducted with the survivors showed that there appeared to have been “a fight on the boat” which was “sparked by a religious argument.”
“They started first with the activities of ISIS, Boko Haram and then the argument became Muslim/Christian affairs and degenerated to the point where the deceased were thrown overboard,” the Minister explained.
Hanna Tetteh said the prosecutor’s office in Palermo is “preparing its case to prosecute those on board who were responsible for committing the crime.”
She also revealed that Ghana’s Consular Officer from its mission in Italy will visit the centre in Palermo where some of the migrants are being held.
“Our Consular officer went to Palermo as we were informed that was where the surviving migrants were being held, to meet them and the authorities investigating the matter. Our Officer met with the deputy provincial prosecutor and his assistant in Palermo who are actually directly in charge of investigating these boats disasters.”
The BBC earlier reported that Italian police have arrested 15 Muslim migrants in connection with the incident.
The 15 Muslim migrants involved in the row with Christians were arrested in the Sicilian city of Palermo and charged with “multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate.”