The chief criminal prosecutor of Agrigento, Sicily, Renato Di Natale, has opened criminal cases on charges of illegal immigration against the Tunisians who arrived in Lampedusa over the past several weeks. Cases have been opened against hundreds of Tunisians and additional cases will be opened as the migrants are identified. The chief prosecutor described the opening of the criminal cases as routine procedure which would occur in any case involving the arrival of a suspected illegal immigrant. The prosecutor said additional charges of providing false information could be added if it is discovered that a migrant provided a false name. If an individual migrant were to be given status as a political refugee, the criminal case would be dropped.
Bringing criminal charges against traffickers or smugglers would seem reasonable, but it strikes me as a poor use of limited state resources to open criminal investigations against the overwhelming majority of the Tunisians who have arrived in Italy in recent weeks. Even if the cases do not proceed, one would think that Italian authorities could respond to this situation differently.