For a total of 211 migrants rescued and who have now been transferred inside the Moby Zazà ship which is located in the port of Porto Empedocle, this time there was no push and pull between the member countries of the European Union and the ‘Italy. But the migration phenomenon will not stop here and neither will NGO activity. Consequently, the eyes are focused on the next moves of the Giallorossi government which on several occasions, on these occasions, has proven to be weak compared to other international authorities with the opening of its ports.
That the Sea Watch is now operational is a fact and, if these are the preconditions, intense activity will have to be expected throughout the summer. The same cannot be said for Aita Mari and the Alan Kurdi, the two NGO ships active until mid-April, despite the lockdown, stopped at the port of Palermo after the operations carried out in that period. Here, they were subjected to an administrative detention by the Coast Guard because they were deemed not in accordance with the law. On the contrary, the German ship will almost certainly give work to the Italian authorities in the coming days.
Karola Rackete’s ship
It is not new that the Sea Watch “brings work” to the governments of the European Union and Italy in particular. In fact, almost a year has passed since the most striking court case of the last years with the commander as protagonist Karola Rackete. It was last June 12 when the German ship driven by Rackete rescued 52 people on a rubber dinghy about 47 miles from Zawiya, near Libya.
Here it happens that after the rescue operations, theOng he said he had received an indication from the “Libyan Navy Coast Guard” to use Tripoli as a safe place for migrants on board the ship. At the same time, however, Sea Watch says it has a completely different intention because it does not consider Libya a safe haven. At that time, the Italian government was yellow-green and headed by the Ministry of the Interior Matteo Salvini. The latter reacts to the statements of the German ship by putting his hands forward by announcing that if the NGO had not brought migrants to Libya, he would have faced responsibilities.
For Rckete the only safe harbor closest to the point where the ship is located is that of LampedusaIn the meantime, the European Commission itself has also found the Libyan port unsafe. Therefore, the Sea Watch, at first, goes to the limit of the Italian territorial waters without going beyond them by virtue of the provisions contained in the “Safety Decree” wanted by Matteo Salvini which allows the Ministry of the Interior to prevent entry into the waters. of the Italian territory of some ships for reasons of order and safety. In the meantime, the sanitary conditions on board the boat become increasingly precarious so the night between 28 and 29 June, the commander Rackete decides to enter the port of Lampedusa by disembarking asylum seekers. In the maneuver to land at the port, the German commander rammed a patrol boat of the finance guard, was arrested and then subjected to trial on charges of aiding illegal immigration and resisting a public official.
The judicial affair
Immediately after the episode of June 29, Carola Rackete was placed at House arrest on suspicion of resistance to public officials and transferred, through a patrol boat of the Yellow Flames, to Agrigento for interrogation inside the court of the Sicilian city. In the meantime, the case had now become of international dominance: from a media and political point of view, what happened at the entrance to the port of Lampedusa in those days and beyond, represented the most followed event.
On July 1, throughout the day, a real crowd of journalists was created where Carola Rackete lived at that moment, always under the house arrest regime. It was an apartment in the central Via Dante, chosen by the defenders of the German captain pending the decision of the investigating judge of Agrigento on the possible release. And this very step represented the first judicial twist: in the late afternoon of July 1, in fact, the investigating magistrate Alessandra Vella did not accept the request of the prosecutor led by Luigi Patronaggio, who had instead asked for the validation of the arrest for the accusations of resistance to warships, resistance to public officials and for having transgressed the security decree.
According to the magistrate who instead ordered the release of Carola Rackete, the patrol boat of the Yellow Flames was not to be considered a warship, also according to Alessandra Vella, the security decree could not be applied because, following the interpretation of the investigating judge, the rule it was only valid for the conduct of smugglers and not for rescue actions. Furthermore, the magistrate considered the choice of Lampedusa as a docking port to be “obligatory” as Libya and Tunisia cannot be considered safe ports. After the release, the controversy at the political level increased with the then Minister Salvini who bitterly commented on what was decided by the investigating judge of Agrigento.
There court case however, it did not end at that moment: on 17 July, in fact, the Sicilian city prosecutor filed an appeal against release, the following day the Agrigento magistrates again interrogated Carola Rackete. The investigation continued, with the Sea Watch 3 ship seized inside the port of Licata. From here the vehicle used by the German NGO only came out in December, when the administrative detention was also lifted.
Another important development on the investigation took place with the new year: on 17 January in fact, the Cassation rejected the appeal of the Agrigento prosecutor’s office, thus confirming the decision of the investigating magistrate Alessandra Vella of release Carola Rackete. On 12 February, however, the Agrigento magistrates requested a further supplement to investigations: another six months to complete the investigations launched on the incident of 29 June 2019. Currently therefore the judicial affair is not officially concluded: the investigations are going on and There are mainly two strands carried out, between the investigation into the behavior of Carola Rackete on the day the ramming of the patrol boat and that on the alleged aiding and abetting of illegal immigration. However, especially on this line, the orientation that emerged from the offices of the Agrigento prosecutor’s office, as stated by sources within the Sicilian court, is to proceed towards the filing request.
What to expect in the coming weeks
What happened a year ago undoubtedly represented a very critical moment at political and media level. The Sea Watch case has monopolized attention for weeks, also fueling very bitter debates and clashes on theimmigration. In the context of the standoff between the then yellow-green government and the NGOs, the ramming of the patrol boat of Finance carried out by Carola Rackete has perhaps represented a real watershed, an important precedent which was followed by the actions of other organizations involved in the Mediterranean and other media and political duels on the subject. This is why, with the Sea Watch 3 back in the sea, it is legitimate to go back in memory and expect other important political implications. The organization that has claimed entry to Lampedusa with a ramming of a patrol boat will certainly not fail to justify any other forcing despite the coronavirus emergency is not yet over.
And with the 211 migrants on board the ship already landed in Porto Empedocle, now there is a question as to how politics will move. The government, after an initial negative response given on Saturday, subsequently gave its approval. The opposition fears a more “benevolent” attitude towards the NGO at the center of the most important controversies of last summer. In the middle, there is also the question of many about the current status of Italian ports: are they now considered safe after the government closed them to humanitarian ships on 8 April until the end of the coronavirus emergency? The latter, it should be remembered, should officially end only on July 31 last.
In general, it is no coincidence that the first potential summer lawsuit relating to NGOs has its possible base in the Sea Watch. Last year the story related to the action of Carola Rackete marked the debate during the last phase of the Lega – M5s government, today the renewed presence in international waters with migrants on board by the German NGO could give rise to new turmoil within the Giallorossi majority. This at a time when, between the removal of security decrees and amnesties miscellaneous, the migration theme has returned to being at the center of the political debate.