Captain faces jail time for landing migrants in Italy

LAMPEDUSA, Italy (AFP) – Sea-Watch 3 skipper Carola Rackete faced jail time after forcing her way into Italy’s Lampedusa port with rescued migrants to end a lengthy standoff with authorities.

Sea-Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer told AFP the 31-year-old German captain was seized after bringing the ship into port without authorisation late last Friday.

Rackete, described as a “pain in the neck” by Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, was detained for forcing her way past a police boat that tried to block her, a crime punishable by three to 10 years in jail.

She was escorted from her ship and taken away as Salvini slammed what he termed a “criminal act, an act of war,” demanding that she be imprisoned.

“Humanitarian reasons cannot justify unacceptable acts of violence towards those wearing uniform at sea,” Italian media quoted regional prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio as saying.

Rackete will appear before a state prosecutor within 48 hours, her lawyer Leonardo Marino told reporters.

Italian media quoted police sources as saying she had apologised for putting the police speedboat and the safety of its occupants at risk.

The 40 migrants on board were allowed to disembark and were taken to a reception centre, some smiling, others in tears as they prepare to travel to either France, whose interior ministry said it would take in 10, or to Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Portugal.