Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy, protest in Tunis

Accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration

05 September, 20:09

    Migranti: pescatori arrestati in Italia, proteste in Tunisia Migranti: pescatori arrestati in Italia, proteste in Tunisia

    TUNIS - The Tunisian NGO La Terre pour Tous will on Thursday stage a protest in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis to call for the release of Chamseddine Bourassine, head of the Zarzis Fishermen's Association (APDE), and the five members of his crew. They have been in jail since August 29 on charges of aggravated aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The NGO has rejected the accusations made by the Italian security forces against the 6 arrested, noting that Bourassine has been working for over a decade to save lives at sea and against racism.

    The head of the fishermen's association is well known for efforts against the C-Star (a ship of young people involved in a right-wing anti-migrant movement) in August 2017, when he went out to sea with other fishing boats and helped stop the anti-migrant ship from entering the port.

    According to Italian media, the six members of the Tunisian fishing boat crew were caught on August 29 while they were towing a boat with 14 migrants towards Lampedusa. The police operation at sea was conducted by financial police naval units and continued by those from the Lampedusa brigade under coordination by the Agrigento prosecutor's office. Both the boats were then taken to the Lamepdusa port where the island's financial police cited the 14 migrants for illegal entry and arrested the six members of the crew, seizing their boats.

    The NGO and family members say that the detainees were simply helping the migrants who had been found in distress at sea. Protests to call for their released have been held in recent days in Zarzis and the local fishermen's association have sent a letter to the Italian ambassador in Tunisia in which Bourassine was called ''an example to follow''. 

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