Italian police arrested the German captain of the Sea-Watch 3 as the rescue ship docked at the port of Lampedusa early on Saturday morning.
Sea-Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer told AFP that the boat’s 31-year-old Captain Carola Rakete was arrested and that the 40 migrants were still on board after the vessel entered the Italian port.
The Sea-Watch, which rescued the migrants off the coast of Libya on June 12, has been at sea for over two weeks amid a standoff with Italian immigration authorities.
“Even though the prosecution opened an investigation against me, they notified us that they will not help the rescued off the ship…therefore I decided to enter the harbor,” German captain Rakete said in a video statement on Twitter.
Although Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini previously said he would only
allow Sea-Watch to dock if other EU states agreed to accept the migrants, Sea-Watch 3 has been refused permission to bring its passengers onshore. The most vulnerable people onboard were evacuated, but Salvini insisted that the rest are not welcome.
The European Commission has called for a “swift resolution,” as reported by German Deutsche Welle.
Italy’s Foreign Ministry said that Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and
Portugal had agreed to host the estimated 40 African migrants, but it is still not
clear when or where the migrants will be allowed to disembark.
European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said that communication is still ongoing with EU member states and it is too early to provide details.
“Early this morning, after 17 days, the last 40 survivors of #SeaWatch3 finally set foot on dry land. They were brought to the #Lampedusa Hotspot, where they gave captain #CarolaRakete a warm welcome, as she was taken to the same place for identification after being arrested,” Sea-Watch International updated on Twitter.
When Rakete was asked by a journalist if Italian Minister Salvini made her his main enemy, the German Captain answered, “To be honest, I haven’t read the comments, I really haven’t had time… I have over 60 people (migrants and
crew) to take care of and Mr. Salvini might just get in line.”