PortandTerminal.com, January 18, 2020
Courts find that Capt. Rakete was “doing her duty saving human lives” as required by UNCLOS
ROME, ITALY – On Friday, Italy’s Supreme Court upheld the release of the German captain who defied official instructions and docked her ship at Lampedusa to offload rescued migrants.
“This is an important verdict for all sea rescue activists!” said Capt. Rackete in a statement. “No one should be prosecuted for aiding people in need. The EU directive on ‘crimes of solidarity’ needs reform.”
Capt. Rackete, 31, allegedly collided with an Italian police vessel while docking, leading to her arrest. Prosecutors asserted that she intentionally rammed it, a charge which she denied.
The Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 had been stuck in the Mediterranean, during a blistering heatwave, since rescuing 53 migrants drifting in an inflatable raft off the coast of Libya on June 12th. The most vulnerable people were evacuated, but Italy’s hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini insisted the rest were unwelcome.
Playing to his loyal anti-immigration base, Salvini called the Sea Watch a “pirate ship” and refused to let the vessel dock.
For her actions, Rackete’s vessel was seized, and she was charged with resisting orders and “violence against warships.” However, within days, a regional court ordered her release, finding that Capt. Rakete was “doing her duty saving human lives” as required by UNCLOS. The Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest appelate court, upheld that decision Friday.
We are proud of our captain, she did exactly the right thing. She upheld the law of the sea and brought people to safety.SeaWatch Chairman Johannes Bayer
Salvini – who has since been ousted from his post by former political partners – may soon face trial himself. If an Italian Senate panel lifts his immunity for actions taken while he was minister, he will be prosecuted on kidnapping charges for preventing 131 migrants aboard the Italian Coast Guard vessel Gregoretti from coming ashore. The panel’s vote is scheduled for Monday.
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