An officer patroling for the European border patrol agency Frontex | Photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Christian Charisius
An officer patroling for the European border patrol agency Frontex | Photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Christian Charisius

The alleged smugglers were filmed by the European border agency Frontex, appearing to transfer a total of 81 migrants from their fishing boat to a smaller boat not far from Italian waters.

Italian authorities arrested several smugglers on Saturday for taking migrants from the Libyan coastal town Zuwara to international waters close to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Frontex, the European border agency, published a video Saturday showing how migrants were transferred from a fishing vessel to a much smaller boat with a tiny motor about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. 

In the video that was shot by a Frontex surveillance drone, some of the crew can be seen appearing to help the migrants board the smaller boat and find a place to sit. Some migrants are wearing lifejackets, others are not. 

According to reports by Euronews, the migrants were allegedly set adrift without any water or any other supplies. The British newspaper The Daily Mail reported that the majority of the migrants came from Bangladesh, Morocco and Libya.


Italian media said the larger boat was intercepted by the Italian financial police shortly after it attempted to return to Libya. After filming the event, the Italian police chased the boat and intercepted it north of the Libyan coast in international waters. 

The seven man-crew of the fishing boat comprised six Egyptians and one Tunisian, all of whom were arrested and are being investigated in the Sicilian port of Licata. They, as well as their fishing boat, were taken to Licata, in southern Italy, early Saturday morning.

The 81 migrants onboard the smaller boat are reported to have reached land in Lampedusa on Saturday.

Local media reports say the public prosecutor's office in Agrigento brought charges against two other Tunisians who are alleged to have brought 43 African refugees to Lampedusa on Wednesday of last week. They were taken from a wooden boat from Tunisia to Italy and went ashore with the refugees there.

 

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