Migrant rescue ship captain arrested at Italy port

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48809134

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Media captionItalian police arresting captain Carola Rackete at the port of Lampedusa

The captain of a migrant rescue ship has been arrested at the Italian port of Lampedusa after a two-week stand-off with police at sea.

Carola Rackete’s vessel, Sea-Watch 3, was carrying dozens of African migrants rescued off the coast of Libya.

The Italian authorities had banned it from docking, but the vessel entered the port late on Friday night.

Italy’s far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini is taking a tough line against migrant rescue ships.

Ms Rackete’s decision to enter the port without permission brought an end to a prolonged stalemate with Italy’s coastguard.

The 31-year-old German was filmed being led away by police in handcuffs.

She was arrested for “resisting a war ship” that would not allow her access to the port, according to Italian state broadcaster RAI.

The vessel had rescued 53 migrants off the coast of Libya on 12 June. Italian authorities had already taken in 13 of them for health reasons.

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Reuters

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Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old Sea-Watch 3 captain, is escorted off the ship by police

At the G20 summit in Japan on Friday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said several EU countries had agreed to take in the 40 remaining migrants on board the ship.

In the meantime, it is not clear what Italian authorities intend to do with them.

Mr Salvini wants clarity on “numbers, timelines and means” before he allows them off the ship, interior ministry sources told AFP news agency.

He previously said the migrants could only disembark if they headed straight to the Netherlands, where the Sea-Watch 3 is registered, or to Germany.

For two weeks, Sea-Watch 3 was unable to come ashore after picking up the stricken migrants drifting in an inflatable raft in the Mediterranean Sea.

Ms Rackete said Sea-Watch had tried to co-operate with the authorities, engaging with Italy, Germany, Malta and France and opening contacts with the European Commission.

However, after two weeks in limbo, Sea-Watch, a German charity, said the boat was forced to enter Italian waters since there was no other option left to ensure the migrants’ safety.

“It’s been almost 60h since we declared a state of emergency. No one listened. No one took responsibility. Once more it’s up to us, to Cpt. #CarolaRackete and her crew, to bringing the 40 people to safety,” Sea-Watch said on Twitter.