As reported in recent news feed items, various NGOs are being prosecuted in Italy for people smuggling as a result of their work in the Mediterranean “rescuing” migrants. Prominent among these groups are several based in Germany.
Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this article from PolitikStube. The translator notes that the same legal system is prosecuting former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for “kidnapping” because he refused to give landing rights to the migrant “rescue” vessels when he was in government:
“Allegation of human smuggling”! Italy: Public prosecutor’s office charges German “sea rescuers”
The migrant ferry Iuventa from “Jugend rettet” was confiscated by the Italian authorities in August 2017 and has since been moored in the port of Trapani. The seizure marked the beginning of the investigation; the allegations concerned suspicious modalities of the rescue operations. After the investigation, the public prosecutor’s office in the Sicilian port city of Trapani brought charges of smuggling and aiding and abetting illegal immigration against 21 “sea rescuers” from the NGOs “Jugend rettet”, “Save the Children” and “Doctors Without Borders”. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison. Ten of the accused are crew members from Iuventa, and are Germans.
As reported by ilgiornale.it , the Iuventa was one of the first ships to set sail for the central Mediterranean in 2016, and immigration reached worrying proportions during that time. In the summer of 2016, more than 20,000 migrants landed every month. Many of them had just been brought to Italy by NGOs. Rescue operations, which, according to Trapani investigators, were sometimes discussed directly with the traffickers.
The Vos Hestia and Vos Prudence, deployed by Save The Children and Doctors Without Borders respectively, would have participated in some of the suspected operations. That is the case of the operation on May 4, 2017: “After we learned of the departure of several boats in the afternoon — so states a document from the public prosecutor, which is reported in the Repubblica — the ship is heading for a certain section of the sea, without giving any notice to the relevant authorities.” Then, at 6:45 am the next day, 548 migrants boarded the Vos Hestia.
Then there is another mission, that of May 22nd, during which the lights on the ship’s deck remained on, a circumstance that is prohibited under the 2015 Self-Regulation Code. On this occasion, 120 migrants came on board. Instead, on June 26, 1,066 people were loaded on board in six hours. Among them, the judges said, the smugglers were found to be present. Those who stepped onto the deck of the ship were also forced to wear Save The Children life jackets, with the old jackets being returned to the traffickers.
On June 18 2017, the return of three small boats tied to the tugs with a rope by the Iuventa activists would have been documented in some of the photographs available to the public prosecutor. There were 264 migrants on board on this occasion.
In addition to interception measures and expert reports on the instruments on board the ships concerned, the investigations also made use of the activities of an undercover investigator on board the Vos Hestia.