The Court of Appeal of Palermo on 22 September formally acquitted two Tunisian fishing boat captains, Abdelbasset Zenzeri and Abdelkarim Bayoudh, who rescued 44 migrants on 8 August 2007 and brought the rescued migrants to Lampedusa despite being ordered by Italian authorities not to enter the port at Lampedusa. Italian coast guard and Guardia boats attempted to block the entry of the fishing boats into the harbour.
The two captains and their crew members were arrested and criminally charged with facilitating illegal immigration and resisting public officers after they landed at Lampedusa to disembark the rescued migrants. Several of the rescued migrants were seriously ill. The migrant boat had departed from Libya, had been at sea for three days, and was carrying asylum seekers from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan. In November 2009 the captains and their five crew members were acquitted by the Court of Agrigento of the charges relating to facilitating illegal immigration, but the two captains were convicted of charges of resisting a public officer and committing violence against a warship (“resistenza a pubblico ufficiale” e “violenza contro nave da guerra”) in connection with their refusal to turn their boats around and not enter the harbour. The captains were required to forfeit their fishing vessels and were sentenced to prison. Last week’s ruling by the Court of Appeal reversed the criminal convictions entered by the lower court and brings the case to an end after 4 years. The incident inspired the movie Terraferma. (In the movie version it is an Italian fisherman who rescues the migrants.)
Click here for ASGI’s statement about the ruling. (IT)