Driver jailed for hijacking bus with 51 children on board and setting it on fire

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Bus driver sets fire to vehicle to protest migrant treatment

An Italian driver who hijacked a bus with 51 schoolchildren on board and set it alight has been jailed.

A Milan court sentenced Ousseynou Sy to 24 years in prison after he was found guilty of forced confinement with terrorist intent, local media reported yesterday.

Sy, 48, drove 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, which is east of Milan.

He then asked the teenagers to leave the vehicle before he set it alight on the outskirts of Milan.

All 51 children escaped unhurt in what Sy said was a protest against migrants drowning in the Mediterranean.

Police spokesperson Marco Palmieri said last year: ‘He shouted, “Stop the deaths at sea, I’ll carry out a massacre.”‘

Sy, originally from Senegal, reportedly also said ‘no one will survive’, and some of the children were apparently tied up.

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

Firefighters arrived at the scene to put out the blaze and 12 teenagers were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. Sy was arrested at the scene.

Reports say Sy believed he had heard the voices of drowned migrant children urging him to take action.

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.