'Never contemplated jail in Lifeline case', Malta judge

No to request to seize boat

14 May, 17:36

    (ANSAmed) - LA VALLETTA, MAY 14 - 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.(ANSAmed).

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