ROME - Italian police Saturday arrested the captain of the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 vessel, owned by a German charity, after it docked in the port of Lampedusa with out authorization. The vessel, still carrying 40 African migrants, had been at sea for more than two weeks.
Carola Rakete, the 31-year-old German captain of the Sea Watch 3, was arrested Saturday morning amid heavy police presence in the port of Lampedusa. She had entered the port without authorization and docked the vessel.
Rakete said she had no choice but to enter the port because the situation of the migrants on board was very tense and she feared they would inflict self-harm.
Italian authorities had refused to allow the vessel entry into Lampedusa since it rescued 53 migrants on an inflatable raft off the coast of Libya on June 12. Malta had also refused port entry to the Sea Watch 3.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had been clear about his requests.
He said he wanted the arrest of any unlawful person who even put at risk Italian law and order officials, a fine for this foreign NGO, the seizure of the ship to stop it going around the Mediterranean breaking the laws and the distribution of all the migrants on board in other European states.
Forty African migrants, who had fled horrors and tortures in Libya, were still on board when the vessel entered the port Saturday morning.
It remained unclear whether the migrants would be allowed to disembark and what their fate would be, although Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, speaking at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, said a number of other European Union countries said they were prepared to accept the migrants.