Migrants Disembark in Italy After Threatening to Kill the Crew


On Thursday, Italy’s interior minister refused to let 67 migrants disembark from an Italian coast guard ship until an investigation determines whether any of them had violently threatened their rescuers to prevent being returned to Libya, according to Fox News.

The Fox report called the minister hard-line but there is nothing hard-line about not wanting to release potential foreign murderers into the country.

The tug reported that some of the migrants threatened to kill the crew

“As soon as our ship turned south, to be able to meet up with a Libyan coast guard ship to transfer the migrants, they started to threaten the crew,” Christopher Savoye, legal affairs official of the Vroon Offshore Service that owns the Vos Thalassa tug, told the shipping news site The Meditelegraph. “They encircled them, pushed them, making the gesture of cutting their throats.”

The tug requested assistance, and the migrants were transferred to the Italian coast guard ship Dicioti.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said prosecutors would determine whether the migrants actually did make the threats, or if the crew of the Vos Thalassa “exaggerated” the danger. They were staying onboard until that determination was made.

Without considering that some of these migrants were threatening to kill the crew, so-called humanitarian groups — UNICEF, the U.N. refugee agency, Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children — demanded the release of the migrants.

“The refugees and migrants, among them women, children, and adolescents, have been at sea for at least four days,” the aid groups said. “(We) request the urgent activation of primary health care, the authorization for everyone to disembark starting with minors and vulnerable people, and the supply of first aid to all those on board.”

Leftist activists were on the deck protesting Italy’s “hard-line position” as Fox called it.


By late Thursday, the migrants were allowed to disembark. Salvini told the press the objective remains to reduce landings and increase expulsions.

There wasn’t much of an investigation, just a phone call from President Sergio Mattarella ordering the release. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said earlier on Thursday night that they would be allowed off the boat once identification procedures had been achieved “in particular for those who may have committed a crime”.

The case highlights a split within Italy’s coalition government, which includes the League and Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement whose left fringe is opposed to the closing of Italian ports.

According to Italian media, sailors aboard the Vos Thalassa locked themselves in the control room and called for help after two migrants with mobile phones and GPS realized that the boat was heading south back towards Libya, sparking a furious reaction from some on board.

Italian newspapers played up the desperation of those onboard.


Twenty-eight EU interior ministers met Thursday in the Austrian city of Innsbruck for a summit focused on finding a common migration plan.

Austria’s and Germany’s interior ministers and others want to press the EU to be tougher with these foreigners pouring in.

Austria’s Herbert Kickl said the new “axis” wants “to send a clear message to the world, and especially to the traffickers, that it won’t be possible anymore in the future, shouldn’t be possible anymore to step on European soil if you don’t have a right to protection.”

For Salvini’s part, he wants his position to become the European position.

“Obviously, if you drastically reduce the departures and arrivals, the problems inside the EU among individual countries will also be reduced,” he said.

Only a minority of people deserve asylum, Salvini said.

“We hope that finally the European Union resumes defending its borders and the right to security of 500 million European citizens who in recent years have been put at risk,” Salvini said.

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