From The Independent
Seven Tunisian fishermen go on trial in Sicily today for the crime of rescuing 44 migrants from certain death in the sea. They are accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. If convicted, they face between one and 15 years in jail. They were remanded in custody and remained in jail until 10 September, when five were released on bail and the two officers of the boat were put under house arrest.
On the morning of 7 August, Abdelkarim Bayoudh and his crew had dropped anchor on a shelf 30 miles south of the island of Lampedusa. They had just turned in for a few hours' sleep when they were woken by screams for help.
Coming out on deck they saw a rubber boat crammed with people wallowing in the rough sea, taking in water and on the point of sinking. Among them were two children and 11 women – two of them pregnant and one elderly and badly ill. In the crush to get aboard the fishing boat, two of the migrants went in the water. Two of the Tunisian crew dived in and rescued them.
Captain Bayoudh then headed for the nearest harbour. Their home port of Monastir was 90 miles away, Lampedusa only 30 miles. The best destination was obvious.
Yet on arrival in Lampedusa, the seven Tunisians were arrested and thrown in jail.
Laura Boldrini, of the UN High Commission for Refugees, contrasts the behaviour of the Tunisians with that of other, unnamed fishermen reported to her who recently beat migrants attempting to get into their boat with sticks, forcing them into the water where several drowned.
No action was taken against them.
Rescueing people from death at sea becomes a crime but forcing people to drown is no longer a crime . What a world we live in !!!
A website called Fortress Europe, which monitors deaths and disappearances at Europe's borders, says that 491 people vanished in the Canale de Sicilia this year, up to 1 September. Of those, 103 are definitely dead; the other 388 are the ones that nobody saw disappear. The figure is the highest since Fortress Europe began counting in 1994, and already nearly 200 more than all of last year.