MILAN (AP) — A private sea rescue ship carrying 42 migrants it took aboard off Libya two weeks ago entered Italian waters Wednesday despite an explicit ban from Italy’s interior minister, who has threatened to seize the ship operated by a German aid organization and to arrest its captain.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the captain of the Sea-Watch 3 broke the law both by disobeying direct orders not to cross into Italy’s territorial waters and by flouting measures that bar the migrant rescue ships of nonprofit groups from entering Italian jurisdiction.
“The right to defend our borders is sacred,” Salvini said.
Italian media played a recording of the ship’s captain informing port authorities Wednesday she was heading to Italy “because I cannot guarantee the safety of the people on board anymore.” The response from the port was “You are not authorized to enter Italian waters.”
Salvini has insisted the ship belonging to German group Sea-Watch and sailing under a Dutch flag should have continued on to Malta, Tunisia or northern European ports instead of remaining near Italy.