Turkish prosecutors want 35 years jail over refugee toddler Aylan Kurdi's death

A Turkish police officer stands next to the toddler's body.
A Turkish police officer stands next to the toddler's body.PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish prosecutors on Thursday (Dec 10) demanded 35-year jail terms for two alleged people-smugglers blamed for the death of a three-year-old boy whose beached corpse came to symbolise Syria's refugee crisis, local media reported.

The suspects, both Syrians, stand accused of "causing death by deliberate negligence" and "migrant smuggling" after five Syrian refugees including Kurdish toddler Aylan Kurdi died when their boat sank in September while on its way to Greece, state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

The sight of Aylan's body, face down in the sand on a beach outside the south-western resort of Bodrum, caused an outpouring of anger across the world, pressuring European leaders to begin to tackle the refugee crisis.

Aylan's mother and brother, who were in the flimsy boat seeking to cross the Aegean Sea for the Greek island of Kos, died in the same accident.

His father, who survived, returned to the Syrian town of Kobane to bury his family.

The prosecutors' indictment was sent to the criminal court in Bodrum, Anatolia said, adding that an investigation was underway to identify six other suspects including four Turks.

The report, which did not identify the two suspects, said prosecutors are demanding separate 35-year jail sentences for each of them.

After the indictment's approval by the Bodrum court, a hearing date will be fixed.

Turkish officials said they could not immediately comment on the Anatolia report.

Turkey is currently hosting up to 2.5 million Syrians after declaring an open door policy when the conflict in Syria erupted in 2011.

After a key agreement with the European Union last month, Ankara has stepped up efforts to stop migrants from leaving its soil in search of better opportunities in EU member states.