Italy: NGO Migrant Ferry Seized After Violating Salvini Blockade

Demontrators hold a flag reading "Savin Humans - Mediterranea" during a gathering organized by local human rights associations in support of the 47 migrants including minors, stranded aboard the Dutch-flagged rescue vessel Sea Watch 3, in front of Italian parliament, in central Rome on January 28, 2019. - Save the …

The NGO migrant ferry Mare Jonio has been seized by the Italian authorities after attempting to circumvent the blockade against migrant transportation put in place by Matteo Salvini.

Members of the crew of the ship have been accused by the authorities of aiding illegal migration after the vessel was able to covertly dock at a port in Lampedusa on Friday, according to a report from Italian newspaper Il Giornale.

Only a day prior, the ship had collected 30 migrants off the coast of Libya in the Search and Rescue (SAR) zone who were on a rubber boat.

At around dawn Friday morning, members of the Guardia di Finanza, military police under the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Economy and Finance, boarded the vessel to search for “irregularities” which, according to Il Giornale, they found. The ship was subsequently confiscated.

Mediterranea Saving Humans, the NGO behind the Mare Jonio, said they were surprised by the announcement, claiming that no irregularities had been found and that they were looking at pursuing kidnapping charges against the government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini remarked, “I do not want to take away work to the magistrates who are working. I understand that there have been men from the Finance Department on board and that they have made the findings of the case that they submitted to the judicial authority and therefore I wait for the positive solution of this matter.”

This is not the first time the NGO has run into legal trouble. Last month it was announced that the head of the NGO, Luca Casarini, and Pietro Marrone, who commands the Mare Jonio, were being investigated for aiding people trafficking and illegal migration.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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