Published: July 07, 2019
A charity rescue vessel has been impounded and the captain is under investigation after he defied Italian authorities and brought 41 shipwrecked migrants into the Sicilian port of Lampedusa late on Saturday.
It is the second boat in a week to challenge the far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini’s determination to close Italian ports to migrants and Italy was facing renewed pressure from Germany to open its doors to asylum seekers.
Mediterranea’s Italian-flagged Alex was met by police on the quay and migrants were allowed to disembark in the latest setback for Mr Salvini’s hardline immigration stance.
“I do not authorise any landing for those who couldn’t care less about Italian laws and who help the people smugglers,” the populist deputy prime minister tweeted.
On Sunday Mr Salvini accused the NGO of lying about the necessity to rescue the migrants saying that “their rubber dinghy had no problems”.
“I would like you to be in front of a rubber dinghy with 50 people with children, including several very small ones, and say ‘There are no problems’,” said Alessandra Sciurba, Mediterranea spokeswoman, told the media.
“How can anyone be so cynical and cruel to make political propaganda?”
After the migrants disembarked, customs police from the Guardia di Finanza searched the vessel and are expected to report to local prosecutors. The Italian capitain, Tommaso Stella, could face charges for aiding illegal immigration. source