Published by Mediterranea's board | 12 / Apr / 2024

Mare Jonio case: minister Piantedosi lied to Parliament. "The Libyan patrol boat intervened by firing after the Italian ship had already started the rescue."

Mediterranea Saving Humans: "why does the Interior Minister endorse the false reconstruction of the so-called Libyan coastguard and cover up its criminal actions?"

 

Responding yesterday afternoon in the Senate to the urgent question tabled by Senator Antonio Nicita on the armed attack by the Libyan patrol boat 658 'Fezzan', which took place on 4 April in international waters, against shipwrecked people in the water and the rescuers of the Italian ship MARE JONIO, Minister Matteo Piantedosi lied to Parliament. In fact, the Interior Minister claimed that our MARE JONIO intervened at a "later time, approaching the patrol boat Fezzan when it had already fulfilled its sea rescue obligations."

This is blatantly untrue.

As the new video images we released today show, the MARE JONIO spotted the boat in distress with more than 45 shipwrecked people on board at 16:40 on 4 April, and our Rescue Team began rescue operations when there was no other boat present at the scene. Indeed, during our intervention, the Libyan patrol boat can be heard, still some miles away, asking the MARE JONIO via VHF radio for information about the boat in distress. In fact, the so-called Libyan coastguard arrives, at great speed, only twenty minutes after the start of the rescue operation, at 17:00, when our team has already distributed the life jackets to the shipwrecked people and is preparing to transfer the first people onto the MARE JONIO.

Minister Piantedosi therefore lied to Parliament. And he did so knowingly. In fact, at the time of the disembarkation of the 56 rescued people in the port of Pozzallo on 5 April, our Commander and Head of Mission not only made spontaneous declarations to the Port Authority, reconstructing the events that had occurred, but also handed over photographic and video documentation both to the Italian Coast Guard and to the police forces directly dependent on the Viminale present at the dock.

Why - we ask ourselves, but anyone who cares about democracy in our country should ask themselves - did the Minister of the Interior endorse the false reconstruction of the self-styled 'Libyan authorities' and cover up in this way the criminal actions of the so-called Libyan coastguard? Why the Italian government does not defend the shipwrecked people and the rescuers who, with a ship flying the Italian flag, were the targets and victims of a deliberate armed attackinstead?

Minister Piantedosi lied to Parliament, not only to justify the punitive measures of administrative detention and fines against our ship MARE JONIO, but also and above all to defend the now more than ever indefensible collaboration between the Italian government and the Libyan militias, responsible - as we saw on 4 April - for countless and systematic violations of international maritime and humanitarian law. A collaboration that must end. Immediately.

Pozzallo, 12th April 2024

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