Italy’s Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini on Sunday said he was considering legal action against the crew of a Dutch-flagged rescue ship as calls grew for 47 migrants to be allowed to land.
“We have concrete elements to declare that the captain and crew of the Sea Watch 3 have put the lives of those on board at risk by disobeying precise directions days ago to disembark them in the nearest port, not Italy.
“The evidence will be handed to the judicial authorities,” Salvini said.
He accused the captain and crew of the ship of “a crime and a clear desire to use these immigrants in a political battle.”
Salvini has refused to open the ports to the mainly sub-Saharan African migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea over a week ago. He has argued that the ship had a chance to make port as it sailed through Libyan, Tunisian and Maltese waters.
“The Interior Minister is gathering elements to evaluate whether to press charges against the entire Sea Watch crew for favouring illegal immigration,” the Interior Ministry said.
Three members of parliament sympathetic to the migrants’ plight were refused permission by the ministry to board the Sea Watch 3.
The delegation managed to get on board by hiring a boat privately and getting past the coast guard.
The MPs, one from the centre-right Forza Italia party and two from left-wing parties, boarded the boat off the coast of Sicily, where it has taken shelter from bad weather.
“There are 50 people in a small room with just one bathroom. They are hostage to a pointless display of strength by the Italian government,” Riccardo Magi of the centrist More Europe party said.
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