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Turkish man jailed for 20 years for role in Italian migrant shipwreck - media

ROME (Reuters) - A Turkish citizen has been sentenced to 20 years in jail in Italy for his part in a migrant shipwreck last year in which at least 94 people were killed, Italian media reported on Wednesday.

A judge from the southern Italian town of Crotone also imposed a 3 million euro ($3.2 million) fine on Gun Ufuk after he was convicted of being an organiser of a people smuggling gang behind a voyage that ended in tragedy last February.

Prosecutors alleged Ufuk was piloting the boat that had set off from Western Turkey with around 180 people aboard. The victims died when the vessel smashed apart in stormy weather off the shore of the town of Cutro in Italy's southern toe.

Ufuk denied wrongdoing and said he had only been on board because he was trying to escape political persecution in Turkey. He was arrested in Austria last March after fleeing across the border from Italy.

He was sentenced after opting for a fast-track trial. The maximum sentence for the crime is 30 years under tougher termsbrought in by the government following the disaster.

Ufuk's lawyer, Salvatore Falcone, said his client was a scapegoat for the failure of the emergency services to respond adequately to the emergency and planned to appeal the verdict.($1 = 0.9284 euros)

(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by David Ljunggren)