Sea Watch ship must dock in Tripoli - Salvini

Migrant-rescue NGO says it will sue minister for defamation

(ANSA) - Rome, June 13 - Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Thursday that a ship operated by the Sea-Watch NGO should dock in Tripoli after it rescued 52 people from a rubber dinghy off the Libyan coast this week. "After embarking 52 immigrants in Libya waters, the illegal ship now finds itself 38 miles from the Libyan coast, 125 miles from Lampedusa, 78 miles from Tunisia and 170 miles from Malta," League leader Salvini said.
    "The Libyan authorities have officially allocated Tripoli as the nearest port for the disembarkment. "If the illegal NGO ship disobeys, keeping the lives of the immigrants at risk, they will answer for it fully".
    German NGO Sea-Watch has on several occasions sought to challenge Salvini's policy of closing Italy's ports to NGO-run search-and-rescue ships. The government, meanwhile, has just passed a new decree that would see NGO ships that bring migrants rescued at sea to Italy without permission fined up to 50,000 euros.
    The NGO said Thursday that it will sue Salvini for defamation.
    The minister has called the NGO's vessel "a pirate ship that allows some people to repeatedly break the law".
    Sea-Watch later reiterated "we will not offload the rescued migrants in Libya".
    It said "Tripoli is not a safe port. Forcibly taking rescued people back to a war-torn country, having them imprisoned and tortured, is a crime.
    "It is shameful that Italy is promoting these atrocities and that EU governments are complicit".
    Salvini retorted: "Sea-Watch is abducting these migrants".
    On Thursday evening the ship was reported to be heading north towards the Italian island of Lampedusa.
    Salvini issued a new directive warning it from entering Italian waters.


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