Sea Watch 3 German search and rescue vessel | Photo: Picture-alliance
Sea Watch 3 German search and rescue vessel | Photo: Picture-alliance

The latest standoff between Italy and the EU over sea rescues has ended with 47 migrants landing in Sicily. The German charity Sea Watch now fears it could be prosecuted and its boat impounded.

A charity rescue ship with 47 migrants aboard arrived at a Sicilian port on Thursday after spending two weeks at sea while Italy demanded other European states take them in.

The Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3 run by German charity Sea Watch docked at the port of Catania after being escorted by Italian coast guard ships.

The 47 migrants will be distributed among Italy, Germany, France, Portugal, Romania, Malta and Luxembourg under a deal Italian Prime Minister struck with other EU states earlier this week.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ordered Italy to provide medical assistance, food and drinks to the migrants who had been stuck at sea since they were rescued off Libya on January 19.

Italy's populist government has repeatedly clashed with the EU over its refusal to allow humanitarian ships to dock at its ports unless other member states agree to take in migrants.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini urged prosecutors to investigate the German NGO and impound its boat.

"We hope for the best and expect the worst," Sea Watch tweeted after it was directed to dock at Catania, where the prosecutor is known for taking a hardline against charity ships.





cw/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)

First published: January 31, 2019

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