Italian judge upholds seizure of Spanish rescue ship

Italy MarineAn Italian judge in Catania upheld Tuesday (27 March 2018) the seizure of Proactiva Open Arms ship, but dropped the most serious charges against the Spanish NGO that operates the ship, which is involvement in the smuggling of migrants.

The Italian media outlet ANSA reported that the judge ruled that the Proactiva Open Arms ship will remain under detention at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo, saying “he did not have the authority to make any further decisions.”

The judge added “there was a possible case for aiding illegal migration,” but rejected allegations of criminal association.

The case documents will be transferred to Ragusa prosecutors, ANSA quoted sources as saying.

Meanwhile, the operation officer at Proactiva Open Arms, Gerard Canals, said he is not afraid of jail with some reports claiming he, along with the captain of the ship, may face 15 year prison sentences and millions of euros in fines.

“I may go to prison but I am not really worried because we did nothing wrong,” he told EU observer online newspaper.

The ship was seized by Italian Coast Guard after landing in Pozzallo on March 18 with 215 illegal migrants on board. The ship refused to hand the migrants over to Libya Coast Guard.