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German migrant rescue NGO to appeal seizure of boat by Italy

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rome (dpa) - German sea rescue group Jugend Rettet (Youth Saves) will go to Italy‘s highest court to fight for the return of its boat, which was seized by the Italian authoritites in August as part of an investigation into the group for abetting illegal migration.

The marine rescuers have lodged their appeal against the impoundment order from a Sicilian court with Rome‘s Supreme Court of Cassation, the organization said on Thursday.

Jugend Rettet is under investigation for collaborating with human traffickers but have yet to be charged.

Italian police have released pictures and videos in which Jugend Rettet appears to pick up migrants at sea in coordination with smugglers present on the scene.

Yet the aid organization says the images were taken out of context.

They believe, "a years-long hate campaign from the political right against rescue workers" is behind the accusations, and alleges that two witnesses for the prosecution have links with the far-right Identitarian Movement.

Voluntary rescue missions in the Mediterranean have come under scrutiny this year after the European Union‘s border agency, Frontex, and Italian prosecutors accused them of encouraging illegal migration.

Italy has sought to regulate their actions with a code of conduct that some NGOs have refused to sign, and has signed deals with Libyan authorities to stop migrant boat departures.

Rome‘s strategy has been effective, with a year-on-year fall in migrant landings of more than 80 per cent in August. But human rights groups say that, as a result, more people are trapped in Libya, where they face torture and abuse.


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