A rescue operation by Sea-Watch in the Central Mediterranean on October 18, 2021 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Valeria Mongelli
A rescue operation by Sea-Watch in the Central Mediterranean on October 18, 2021 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Valeria Mongelli

A judge in Agrigento has shelved a case against Sea-Watch 3 migrant rescue ship skipper Artuto Centore for allegedly favoring illegal immigration over the landing of 47 migrants on Lampedusa in 2019.

An Agrigento preliminary investigations judge (GIP) on October 21 shelved a case against Arturo Centore, a skipper on the Sea Watch 3 migrant rescue ship, for allegedly favoring illegal immigration when he rescued a group of migrants in international waters, near the Libyan coast, on May 15, 2019.

The judge said he did not commit a crime when he carried out the rescue operation as he had "an obligation to rescue and assist the people on board a rubber dinghy and provide for their subsequent transportation to a safe port of landing under rules established by national and international legislation."

Centore was under investigation on charges of favoring illegal immigration following the landing on May 19, 2019 of a total of 47 migrants rescued at sea.

Motivating the measure that shelved the case against Centore, the GIP quoted in its entirety a request presented by Agrigento prosecutors Salvatore Vella and Cecilia Baravelli.

Prosecutors blame States

Both prosecutors, in ruling out that any crime was committed by the skipper, "told off" States for allegedly failing to cooperate in the rescue mission.

According to the State's attorneys and the preliminary investigations judge, the Netherlands, the flag State of the vessel, had an obligation to assist.

"No assumption of responsibility was shown by Dutch authorities who only suggested to the Sea-Watch 3 to find a safe port in Tunisia or elsewhere."

A harsher judgment was given of Libyan authorities who allegedly ordered the ship to move away. The skipper's decision not to go to Malta or Tunisia was also justified in the motivation.

Malta "in the past had manifested doubt over operations of this kind" and Tunisia "did not offer a safe port," according to court papers.

 

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