The 'Mare Ionio' vessel of the Italian migrant-rescue NGO Mediterranea off the Lampedusa harbour | Photo: ARCHIVE/ELIO DESIDERIO/ANSA
The 'Mare Ionio' vessel of the Italian migrant-rescue NGO Mediterranea off the Lampedusa harbour | Photo: ARCHIVE/ELIO DESIDERIO/ANSA

The Mare Ionio ship has started its fourth mission in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, the NGO that runs the ship has filed a lawsuit against a directive signed by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini against NGOs rescuing migrants.

Despite the Coast Guard warning against "carrying out rescue operations in a stable and organized manner" since it is not properly equipped, the NGO migrant rescue boat Mare Ionio is once again sailing in the Mediterranean on its fourth mission.

NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans, which runs the Italian flagged vessel, has filed a complaint over the "ad navem" directive signed by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. 

Read more: Italian coastguard declares migrant rescue ship Mare Jonio unfit

Mediterranea: 'Unprecedented campaign of public denigration''

"The ship left from the Marsala port. They didn't stop us. This is a moral imperative," said Alessandra Sciurba, spokesperson for Mediterranea. 

Mare Ionio shipowner Alessandro Metz discussed the lawsuit filed, saying that "the Salvini directive assumes that we have committed the crime of aiding and abetting clandestine immigration, which carries a sentence of over 10 years in jail and thus the defamation is aggravated. Salvini should not escape trial and we will see whether his action was legitimate."

Government representatives, the document sent to the Rome prosecutor's office by the NGO states, have discredited the "actions and intentions" of Mediterranea "through an unprecedented campaign of public denigration''. 

Priest also on Mare Ionio 

Onboard the Mare Ionio is currently  a priest, the 25-year-old Mattia Ferrari from Modena. "I am here," he told Italian newspaper Avvenire, "to bring the closeness of the Church of Jesus to these youths who risk their lives to save that of others, and to any migrants rescued during the mission."
 

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