An Italian court last week ruled in favor of the German captain of a migrant rescue ship who rammed through a security blockade and disobeyed orders not to dock in Italy.
Judge Alessandra Vella said 31-year-old Carola Rackete was “doing her duty saving human lives” when she docked the humanitarian ship German Sea-Watch 3 carrying 41 African migrants at the port of Lampedusa. She was placed under house arrest and faced up to 10 years in prison for hitting a border police motorboat while docking after rescuing the migrants off the coast of Libya.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly prevented rescue boats with stranded migrants from docking, saying they only enable traffickers. “Ignoring the law and ramming a motorboat of border police officers aren’t enough motives to go to jail,” Salvini tweeted sarcastically.
Rescue groups argue it violates international law to send migrants back to war-torn Libya, where clashes persist between the forces of Khalifa Hifter’s self-named Libyan National Army and Libya’s internationally recognized government in the capital city of Tripoli. At least 53 people died and more than 130 others sustained injuries last week when an airstrike hit a detention center for mostly African migrants in a suburb of Tripoli. “There are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape,” the United Nations humanitarian office said. —O.O.