Italy Prosecutors Eye Libyan Coastguard Probe
Umer Jamshaid Published July 07, 2021 | 08:12 PM
Italian prosecutors said on Wednesday they are seeking permission from the foreign ministry to investigate footage purportedly showing the Libyan coastguard firing at a migrant boat in the Mediterranean
Rome, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 7th Jul, 2021 ) :Italian prosecutors said on Wednesday they are seeking permission from the foreign ministry to investigate footage purportedly showing the Libyan coastguard firing at a migrant boat in the Mediterranean.
The 64 migrants later landed on the small Italian island of Lampedusa.
Luigi Patronaggio, head prosecutor in the Sicilian city of Agrigento, told AFP he was looking into the allegations of "attempted shipwreck".
Patronaggio said he needs "authorisation from the Italian ministry of justice" to launch an official probe, "given that the object of the proceeding is a foreign authority".
"The alleged crime was committed in international waters, against foreigners," he said.
He confirmed he was seeking authorisation from the ministry to pursue the case but would not be drawn on how long it might take to obtain.
Patronaggio may get the green light because the migrants -- who could testify to events -- landed on Lampedusa, which falls under Agrigento's jurisdiction.
- Libyan condemnation - In a statement about the video, the Libyan navy said the coastguard ship defied protocols by firing warning shots, and said its behaviour endangered the lives of both migrants and crew.
The coastguard command "will take all legal measures against those found to be involved in this incident", it said.
And it "affirms its commitment to continue its missions and its obligation to save lives at sea and protect the Libyan coastline with respect for Libyan and international laws and provisions".
Sea-Watch spokeswoman Giorgia Linardi said if Italy went ahead with the probe, it would be "the first time a European country has launched an investigation against the Libyan coastguard".
"The violence to which the migrants were subjected is unacceptable and shows the need to stop aid to the so-called Libyan coastguard," she said.
Italy and the European Union have for years been financing, training and providing aid to Libya's coastguard to stop smugglers from taking migrants and refugees in flimsy boats across the Mediterranean to Europe.
But the coastguard has faced numerous accusations of appalling mistreatment of asylum seekers, and charities and human rights groups have severely criticised the arrangement.
An Italian navy ship moored in Tripoli provides technical support to the coastguard.
Radio Radicale journalist Sergio Scandura, whose tracking of the coastguard ship's movements has been included in Patronaggio's file, told AFP the episode took place near Italian waters -- just 45 nautical miles from Lampedusa.
"It's the first time a Tripoli patrol boat pushed that far north in pursuit of migrants," he said.
Nearly 900 people have perished in the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.