The suspects were sentenced this morning. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

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A Palma court today handed down the first sentences to the two skippers of a boat used to smuggle and traffic immigrants from North Africa to the Balearics.

Both defendants, of Algerian nationality, accepted a one-year prison sentence following an agreement reached between their defence and the Public Prosecutor's Office and, by decision of the court, they are banned from the Balearics for two years. In the previous trial held against the alleged skipper of one of these boats, which arrived off the coast of Calvià last year, the Court acquitted the accused due to lack of evidence that he was responsible for the boat.

The two defendants convicted this morning were the skippers of a boat that arrived on February 11 this year and came ashore on the Migjorn beach in Formentera. Both admitted that they had charged between 3,000 and 3,500 euros to the eight passengers travelling on the boat. The boat had left Tipaza, in Algeria, and took twelve hours to reach their destination.

According to the prosecution it was a small boat that did not comply with the minimum safety conditions for the journey.

The two defendants were arrested by the Guardia Civil shortly after the arrival of the boat and have been held in custody ever since.

This will be the effective period they will serve in prison, as a suspended prison sentence was agreed on the condition that they do not commit any crimes within two years.

The court also decided to impose a ban on them being in the Balearics during this period. If they fail to comply, they would have to serve the prison sentence.