Charity’s Ship Carrying Migrants Seized

Authorities in Italy have reportedly arrested the captain of the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3 vessel, owned by the German charity Sea-Watch, after it rammed a military vessel and docked in the port of Lampedusa without authorization. The vessel was reportedly carrying African migrants who had been rescued at sea. The stand-off had lasted 16 days.

Carola Rakete, 31, captain of the Sea-Watch 3, was arrested Saturday morning amid heavy police presence in the port of Lampedusa. Rakete reportedly told authorities said she had no choice but to enter the port because the situation of the migrants on board was very tense and she feared they would inflict self-harm.

Some 200,000 people donated a total of at least €550,000 in less than 24 hours on the crowdfunding platform Leetchi for the captain’s bail and support. Italian authorities had refused to allow Sea-Watch 3 entry into Lampedusa since it rescued 53 migrants on an inflatable raft off the coast of Libya on June 12. Authorities in Malta had also refused port entry to the Sea-Watch 3.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had told media that he wanted the arrest of any unlawful person who even put at risk Italian law and order officials, a fine for Sea-Watch, and seizure of the ship.

Some 40 African migrants were still on board when the vessel entered the port Saturday morning. It was not immediate know if the migrants would be allowed off the ship.

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