In Italy, a ship captain was found guilty of returning 101 rescued migrants to Libya.
A Naples court has found Giuseppe Sotgiu, the captain of an Italian commercial ship, guilty of abandonment-related crimes for returning 101 migrants rescued at sea to Libya in 2018.
The United Nations Refugee Agency and the European Union do not consider Libya to be a safe port, so forcing migrants, particularly unaccompanied minors, to return there could be a breach of their right to protection and asylum, according to the Associated Press.
According to a copy of the judgement and the Avvenire newspaper, Sotgiu was sentenced to a year in prison. The court found him not guilty of the most serious complaint against him, abuse of office.
According to Avvenire, the captain was convicted on two more counts of abandoning minors and vulnerable people in exchange for returning the migrants to Libya.
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The ruling, first published by Avvenire on Wednesday, by Naples judge Maria Luisa Miranda was the first of its sort in Italy. It came following a 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against Italy, which came after Italian military warships returned migrants to Tripoli in 2009.
The case before the Naples court concerns the rescue of 101 migrants on the Sabratha oil platform north of Tripoli on July 30, 2018 by the Asso Ventotto, an Italian oil rig supply ship working for the Mellitah Oil and Gas firm, a joint venture of Italy’s ENI and Libya’s National Oil Corp.
The ship’s operator, Augusta Offshore of Naples, stated at the time that the Asso Ventotto had received a request from the Libyan coast guard to respond to a rubber dinghy carrying migrants around 12 miles from the platform. The migrants did not complain when they were transported aboard a Libyan coast guard ship and taken back to Tripoli, Augusta claimed, after being rescued.
According to a court document summarizing the prosecutors’ case, the orders to return the migrants to Tripoli came from the oil platform, the captain didn’t contact either the Tripoli or Rome coast guard offices until after he started heading for Tripoli, and the Asso Ventotto docked in Tripoli after disembarking the migrants onto a Libyan vessel that brought them ashore.
The prosecutor’s office. This is a condensed version of the information.