Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini said on Sunday he was gathering legal evidence against the crew of a Dutch-flagged rescue ship as calls grew for 47 migrants to be allowed to land.
“We have concrete elements to declare that the captain and crew of the Sea Watch 3 have put the lives of those on board at risk by disobeying precise directions days ago to disembark them in the nearest port, not Italy!” he said.
“The evidence will be handed to the judicial authorities,” he said, accusing captain and crew of “a crime and a clear desire to use these immigrants in a political battle”.
Salvini has refused to open the ports to the mainly sub-Saharan African migrants rescued in the Mediterranean over a week ago, saying the ship had had a chance to make port as it sailed through Libyan, Tunisian and Maltese waters.
“The interior minister is gathering elements to evaluate whether to press charges against the entire Sea Watch crew for favouring illegal immigratio