Migrants: 'Lifeline' NGO ship captain convicted in Malta

Sentenced to pay 10,000 euros for violating registration rules

14 May, 17:57

    Lifeline NGO rescue ship captain Claus-Peter Reisch (2-R) arrives at the Malta Law Court Lifeline NGO rescue ship captain Claus-Peter Reisch (2-R) arrives at the Malta Law Court

    BERLIN - The capital of a migrant rescue ship operated by German NGO "Mission Lifenie" has been sentenced to pay a fine of 10,000 euros by a court in Malta. A court in La Valletta, the Dresda-based NGO was quoted as saying by German media, convicted Claud-Peter Reisch for registration irregularities. The ship Lifeline rescued over 230 migrants off Libya's coast but the Maltese court said the vessel violated registration rules.

    Lifenine's spokesman Axel Steier announced an appeal, saying the captain is innocent: "The ruling is scandalous. It is clearly a political sentence". At the time of the rescue operation, the vessel was registered under the Dutch flag.

    'Never contemplated jail in Lifeline case', Malta judge

    LA VALLETTA - The captain of Lifeline, Claus-Peter Reisch, was ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 euros by a court in Malta although the charges pressed against him could have cost him up to 12 months in prison. Nevertheless, judge Joseph Mifsud was reported as saying that detention ''was never contemplated'' because, according to the Times of Malta, the court ''immediately understood the case's circumstances''. Moreover, the magistrate stressed that the German citizen did not have a criminal record and always scrupulously respected judicial procedures. The court also rejected the Maltese authorities' request to seize the ship and ruled against the charge that the ship was used for commercial purposes without the appropriate license. The 'Lifeline' was at the center of a harsh dispute between Italy and Malta and the Maltese government allowed it to dock only after an agreement was reached for the redistribution of the over 200 migrants rescued by Reisch. At the time, he stated: ''Bringing migrants back to Libya was never an option''. The captain was charged after the arrival in Malta over irregularities in the ship's registration under the Dutch flag. The ship was seized despite several requests issued by the NGO Mission Lifeline to release it. The court today concluded that the registration ''was not satisfying for Dutch authorities'' when the ship entered Maltese waters, hence the fine.

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