One of the many boats used to smuggle migrants into the Balearics. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

The skipper of a boat that arrived in the Balearics in September was sentenced today to four years in prison, the highest sentence imposed so far against a person found guilty of smuggling illegal immigrants into the region from North Africa.

The accused accepted the sentence after a deal was struck between the prosecution and his defence. He admitted to having sailed a boat from Algeria to Formentera with 13 immigrants on board. All of them had paid between 1,000 and 1,300 euros for the trip.

The prosecution, which demanded six years in its initial accusation, highlighted the risk involved in the crossing in a boat with a single engine. This is the second conviction so far this month against nautical people smugglers.

On May 5, the skippers of a boat that had also arrived in Formentera on February 11 this year with eight passengers appeared in court in Palma. Both were given a one-year suspended sentence and banned from the Balearics for two years.