The Blue Marlin II was once used to smuggle people from the Albania to Italy. Now, the boat will help rehabilitate young Italian criminals.
The Blue Martin II was seized by the Italian police from a group of Albanian traffickers. Until July, the boat had been used to take dozens of Syrians, Kurds, and Afghans from the Albanian coast to the southern Italian region of Puglia. Migrants and refugees had reportedly paid about 5,000 euros each to the traffickers for the journey.
Now, the Blue Marlin II is anchored in the Naples port, where it will serve as a center for the rehabilitation of young offenders. The project was launched last week.
Eight young offenders repairing the boat
There are currently eight youths that are working on the small repairs that the Blue Martin II needs. These youths have been convicted of links to the Camorra, robbery, and drug dealing. Beginning in January, they will take to the sea to train in the sailboating trade and to take part in regattas planned for the spring in the Gulf of Naples.
The project is run by the Associazione Jonathan, which focuses on the rehabilitation and social inclusion of minors and young adults who are on parole or being detained. Over the past 10 years, about 70 youths convicted of crimes have worked on boats through the association.
'A means of redemption'
"When we found out about the seizure [of the boat], we asked the security forces in Gallipoli," Silvia Ricciardi from the Jonathan association said, "and the boat was assigned to us by the Taranto judicial authority. For the past 11 years we have been engaged in projects using boats with youths and we are prepared to continue with greater intensity with the new boat."
Franco Roberti, former member of the EU Parliament and former head of Italy's anti-mafia unit said that "sports are a way to learn rules but also a means of redemption. Sailing makes you feel responsible for others and thus build a community from feelings... The state should get more involved in these initiatives, which are fundamental for crime prevention."