Migrants: Italy asks Malta for an explanation

Italian Home Affairs minister Luciana Lamorgese has asked the Maltese government for an explanation over the recent stories purportedly showing that the Armed Forces of Malta pushed migrants towards Italy when the rescue was in Maltese territorial waters. On the popular current affairs program ‘Che tempo che fa’ on RAI 2, Luciana Lamorgese said that on seeing the images, she had reacted strongly and immediately. “I saw the video and immediately sent it to the Maltese Home Affairs minister. It seems absurd to me that this country is embroiled in such a situation. The Minister told me that matters were not exactly as the video was showing. I flagged the matter up to the EU Commission”

Newsbook.com.mt has sent questions to Home Affairs minister Byron Camilleri on the matter, requesting a reaction on two levels. Newsbook.com.mt asked if the minister had any reaction to what Minister Luciana Lamorgese said and also if he had taken the matter up with the EU Commission.

Since Easter weekend, International media L’AVVENIRE and THE GUARDIAN followed the plight of several boats which had left Libya, loaded with migrants. The boats were ill-equipped to deal with both the distance and the inclement weather and at least one boat has so far remained unaccounted for. L’AVVENIRE accused Frontex, the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, tasked with border control of the European Schengen Area, in coordination with the border and coast guards of Schengen Area member states, of operating a system of tacit push-backs.

Meanwhile, the rule of law NGO Repubblika had filed two criminal complaints before the Police Commissioner. One against Prime Minister Robert Abela and Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi and the second against P52 crew over the alleged intentional sabotage of a rubber boat carrying asylum seekers.

Prime Minister Robert Abela had ordered the opening of a judicial enquiry over the complaint by Repubblika and Magistrate Joseph Mifsud was appointed to lead the inquiry.

Meanwhile, video footage published by L’AVVENIRE and THE GUARDIAN and verified by Newsbook.com.mt seemed to show that the Armed Forces of Malta first threatened migrants on a boat in Malta’s SAR zone that they will take them back to Libya, then they gave them petrol and an engine to go to Italy. The authoritative news media houses produced an unsettling video and a harrowing story to support their story. The rescue platform Alarmphone also spoke out.

Government has yet to comment on this footage.