After 14 days of being denied access to Italian ports with over 40 migrants on board, the captain of the Sea Watch-3 has set sail for the island of Lampedusa.
Captain of Sea Watch-3 Carola Rackete made an announcement early on Wednesday that she would break the blockade enacted by populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and attempt to land 42 migrants on the island, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.
“Good evening, I inform you that I must enter Italian territorial waters,” Rackete told the Lampedusa Harbour Master’s Office over the radio and added: “I can no longer guarantee the status of people. I have to disembark the 42 people I have on board. I will tack the boat, I will enter the territorial waters.”
Despite being told, “You are not allowed to enter Italian territorial waters,” by the Harbour Master’s Office, Rackete doubled down saying: “The estimated time of arrival to the port is two hours.”
Later in the day, Italian authorities caught up to the vessel and boarded her just outside of the port to check the documents of the ship and to examine the passports of the crew.
Salvini Directly Accuses Sea-Watch Migrant Ferry NGO of Human Trafficking https://t.co/DFRKv9LY6K
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 23, 2019
Interior Minister Salvini commented on the situation saying: “Lampedusa and Italy need tourists who pay, not illegal immigrants whom we must support.”
“On the Sea Watch, there is a European country [flag] belonging Holland, which cares. There is Germany, of which the crew has citizenship, which cares. There is the European Union that, as usual, sleeps,” he added.
Rackete also justified her actions saying: “I was able to attend three universities, I am white, German, born in a rich country and with the right passport. When I realised it, I felt a moral obligation: to help those who did not have the same opportunities as me.”
Salvini replied to her writing: “What does the Berlin government think? Is it normal for one of its citizens to come to us and say: I don’t care about Italian laws?”
Migrant Rescue Vessel Captain Faces 20 Years For Aiding Illegal Immigration https://t.co/NVD8YPO9BE
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 11, 2019
Under the recently passed security and migration decree, Rackete and Sea Watch could face heavy fines along with the possibility of having the Sea Watch-3 vessel confiscated by the Italian government.
Rackete could also face other legal troubles like her counterpart and fellow NGO vessel captain Pia Klemp who faces a potential 20-year prison sentence if found guilty of aiding illegal migration.