Italian Migrant NGO Head May Face 18 Years in Prison for Aiding Illegals

Migrants look at trains timetables at the Ventimiglia train station, northwestern Italy, o
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

The head of a pro-migration NGO in Italy faces up to 18 years in prison after being indicted over allegations of aiding illegal immigration by purchasing bus tickets for migrants.

Andrea Costa, the president of the Baobab Experience, which assists migrants in Rome, has claimed that he faces prison for buying tickets for migrants from Sudan and Chad.

“I risk a conviction from six and a half to 18 years in prison and I still don’t understand the charge,” Costa said.

“I am accused of favouring illegal immigration for helping nine young migrants buy bus tickets to travel from Rome to Genoa,” the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants reports him as saying.

Another activist also faces charges alongside Costa for helping to raise cash for migrants to travel to Genoa. A third is facing charges for helping the migrants reach the city of Ventimiglia, a popular point for migrants to cross illegally into France from Italy.

Last year, reports claimed that Ventimiglia had seen daily violent encounters between migrants and that inter-ethnic brawls were common, especially around the city’s main railway station.

In November of last year, an African migrant was found dead in Ventimiglia, with investigators believing the man, said to be aged between 18 and 20, had been stabbed to death before he was found below an underpass.

Francesco Romeo, the lawyer representing Costa, claimed that investigators had produced no evidence Costa had made money helping the migrants reach Genoa, and claimed Costa’s bank account was in overdraft by 15 euros.

Costa is just the latest NGO head to be accused of aiding illegal migration by the Italian government in recent years.

Last year in February, activist Gian Andrea Franchi, the head of the Linea d’Ombra (Shadow Line) NGO, was placed under investigation after allegations that he had aided migrants travelling via the Balkan migrant route after the Trieste public prosecutor launched an investigation into a Kurdish migrant-trafficking network.

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


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