A Syrian was remanded in custody in Cyprus Friday on suspicion of smuggling migrants after coastguards rescued 28 people from a small boat that had been adrift for days.
The 41-year-old suspect was among the mostly Syrian people who were brought safely to shore Thursday evening after patrol vessels responded to a distress call off the island’s west coast.
He appeared in court Friday and was remanded in police custody for eight days on suspicion of migrant smuggling and helping third country nationals enter the island illegally.
Police said the boat had left the Turkish coastal town of Alanya for Cyprus Tuesday but had run out of fuel.
The Turkish captain, who had been paid 2,000 euros ($2,200) a head for the voyage, had abandoned ship, the refugees said.
The 27 passengers – 18 men, six women and three children, all said to be in good health — are being cared for at a reception center outside the capital Nicosia.
Although it lies just 100 kilometers (60 miles) off the coast of Syria, EU member Cyprus has so far avoided a mass influx of refugees from the war-torn country.
But as Greece prepares to start sending migrants back to Turkey Monday under a controversial March 18 deal between the EU and Ankara, there have been concerns that other migration routes will open up.