Italian driver jailed over school bus hijacking

ROME (AFP) - An Italian driver originally from Senegal who hijacked his bus with 50 schoolchildren on board and set it ablaze to protest against migrant deaths has been sentenced to 24 years jail, local media reported on Wednesday (July 15).

A Milan court sentenced Ousseynou Sy after he was found guilty of forced confinement with terrorist intent and prosecutors had demanded the 24 year sentence, media said.

Sy had driven his school bus with 51 students on board towards Milan airport in March last year as he was transporting the 12- and 13-year-olds to school in Crema, east of Milan.

Police blocked the bus and the children managed to escape through a back window that had been smashed by security forces.

Sy said at the time that he had heard the voices of drowned migrant children urging him to take action, according to media reports.

Italy has been a major destination for illegal migrants trying to reach Europe from the coast of North Africa, and many have drowned in the Mediterranean attempting to make the crossing.

Two of the boys on Sy's bus, an Egyptian and a Moroccan, were given Italian nationality last year in recognition of their bravery in helping others escape.