Rome – The Sea-Watch 3, a charity rescue boat with 47 migrants aboard, arrived on Thursday in a Sicilian port town where the local prosecutor is known for putting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the dock.
In November, Catania Prosecutor, Carmelo Zuccaro, accused Doctors without Borders (MSF) of trafficking in dangerous waste material on the grounds that the migrants’ clothing its rescue ship disposed of at port carried infectious diseases.
However, the charges are unproven.
“We have to go to Catania now that means, we are moving away from a port of safety, towards a port where there is a prosecutor known for his agenda regarding sea rescue NGOs.
“If this is not a political move, we don’t know what it is.
“We hope for the best and expect the worst,’’ Sea-Watch said.
Sea-Watch is the German NGO that runs the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3.
The vessel rescued 47 migrants on Jan. 19 north of Libya and had been moored since Friday off Syracuse, about 60 kilometres south of Catania.
Italy said it would allow the migrants off the boat only on Wednesday after six other EU countries agreed to take some of them in.
The six are Germany, France, Portugal, Romania, Malta and Luxembourg.
Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, also urged prosecutors to investigate Sea-Watch and impound its boat.
He said the NGO endangered migrants’ lives by taking them on a long sea journey to Italy, rather than a nearer port in Tunisia.
The Sea-Watch 3’s arrival in Catania was delayed by several hours because of a problem with its anchor. (dpa