27th March 2018 (NEV/CS15) – Today we learned that the Catania Prosecutor, despite ratifying the decision to impound the Open Arms boat belonging to Spanish NGO Proactiva, has remitted the case to the Ragusa Prosecutor. In doing so, the allegation of criminal conspiracy made against three crew members falls.
“Partly positive news – commented Paolo Naso, co-ordinator of Mediterranean Hope – the FCEI’s Refugee and Migrant Programme – both because this exonerates the humanitarian operators of Proactiva OpenArms of the serious allegation of criminal conspiracy, and because the case has been entrusted to a prosecutor other than the Catania prosecutor who has for some time levelled serious accusations at NGOs involved in search and rescue (SAR) without producing proof of any crime”.
However Naso does object to the fact that “the OpenArms remains impounded and cannot undertake SAR missions. In these times when we, as Protestant churches, are welcoming to Italy around one hundred refugees arriving entirely legally through the humanitarian corridors programme, a project which has been realised together with the Comunità di Sant’Egidio over the last two years, we stand in solidarity with those who protect the lives of refugees in the Mediterranean through their SAR activity. As Mediterranean Hope, we have already taken part in one OpenArms mission and we trust that we shall soon be able to take part in new humanitarian missions again”.