Mare Jonio ship paid to carry migrants, prosecutor

By Danish Maersk Etienne for refugees rescued 37 days before

01 March, 15:20

    RAGUSA - Prosecutors in Ragusa are investigating whether money was paid for the transshipment on September 11, 2020, of 27 migrants from Danish vessel Maersk Etienne, which had rescued them 37 days before, to the Mare Jonio operated by Mediterranea saving humans.
    Prosecutors have ordered search operations in Trieste, Venice, Palermo, Bologna, Lapedona (FM), Mazara Del Vallo (TP), Montedinove (Ap) and Augusta (SR).
    The transshipment, according to investigators, occurred "after the conclusion of an agreement of a commercial nature between the companies that owned the two ships, thanks to which" the owners of "Mare Jonio earned a significant sum" in payment.
    Prosecutors in Ragusa are investigating four people, including partners, employees and administrators of the company that owns the tug boat, on charges of favoring illegal immigration and violating navigation rules.
    Investigators include tax police and flying squad police in Ragusa, along with finance police, port authorities and coast guards in Pozzallo. The investigative team carried out search operations to "look for and retrieve any document or electronic documentation to prove relations between those under investigation and the Danish owner of the ship Maersk Etienne, as well as other potential shipowners".
    At the center of the investigation is the arrival of 27 migrants on September 12, 2020, in the port of Pozzallo. The migrants disembarked from the Mare Jonio of NGO Mediterranean saving humans a day after being transferred from the Maersk Etienne, which rescued them 37 days before. The vessel had rescued them in a search and rescue operation ordered by Malta and was waiting to be assigned a safe port.
    Prosecutors in Ragusa said that the investigation "carried out so far, corroborated by wiretaps, financial investigations and documents", revealed that the "transshipment of migrants carried out by the crew of Mare Jonio" allegedly occurred "without any preventive agreement with Maltese authorities, with jurisdiction for the search and rescue event, nor with Italian ones, and apparently justified by a situation of health emergency 'documented' by a medical report drafted by a team of rescuers that illegitimately boarded the tug boat". Prosecutors in Ragusa also allege that the migrants were transferred "only after the conclusion of an agreement of a commercial nature between the two companies that owned the ships, under which the shipping company of the Mare Jonio earned a significant sum for its service". 

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