Migrants brought to Malta from Spanish boat after long standoff

In this file photo taken on August 15, 2018 crew members stand aboard the Aquarius rescue ship as it arrive at Bolier Wharf in Senglea, Malta. (AFP)
Updated 02 December 2018
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Migrants brought to Malta from Spanish boat after long standoff

  • The vessel was initially refused entry by Italy, Malta and Spain
  • The fishing boat, Santa Madre de Loreto, rescued 12 migrants in international waters off the coast of Libya 10 days ago

VALLETTA: Eleven migrants who were stranded on a Spanish fishing boat for more than a week after being rescued off Libya were brought to Malta on Sunday, ending an international stand-off, but Valletta said they would later be taken to Spain.
The vessel was initially refused entry by Italy, Malta and Spain.
The fishing boat, Santa Madre de Loreto, rescued 12 migrants in international waters off the coast of Libya 10 days ago. Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which has been assisting the boat and migrants aboard, said it would not have been safe if they were returned to Libya.
On Sunday, the migrants were transferred from the Nuestra Madre de Loreto to a Maltese patrol boat, and arrived in Valletta harbor at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT), Maltese government spokesman Kurt Farrugia said.
However, Farrugia told Reuters that Malta had agreed with Madrid that this was only a temporary solution dictated by “humanitarian reasons,” and they would be taken to Spain in due course.
“Malta had no obligation to take them because they were not picked up in Maltese waters and Malta was not the closest port,” Farrugia said.
A young man among the group was flown to Malta by helicopter on Friday after he fell unconscious due to exhaustion.
The remaining migrants, including two minors, are weak after their ordeal in cramped conditions at sea, said the charity group United4Med.
After offering to take more than 600 migrants rejected by Italy and Malta over the summer, Madrid said that rather than making the long journey to Spain, the boat should head to the nearest safe port.
In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists go to the polls on Sunday in a key regional election in Andalusia, the main entry point for migrants making the dangerous sea crossing to Spain.
Immigration has been a major focus of the campaign, while a surging far right is predicted to win its first seats since the 1970s.
“From the beginning, the government has worked to ensure the boat, which is in international waters, goes to a safe and nearby port,” Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said in a statement on Sunday.
Madrid’s conduct was criticized by Proactiva Open Arms.
“The government now says #Santa Madre de Loreto should head to Malta. Late, wrong and unscrupulous,” the group’s founder Oscar Camps wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning.
“Playing with the security of people who have gone 10 days without news, amid a rough storm, and with one person rescued by helicopter and a high risk for the whole crew,” Camps said.


Indian tycoon Mallya to find out extradition fate

Updated 3 min 23 sec ago
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Indian tycoon Mallya to find out extradition fate

  • “The focus of our case is on his conduct, how he misused the banks,” lawyer Mark Summers, representing the Indian authorities, said during an earlier hearing
LONDON: Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya will appear in a London court on Monday to find out whether he will be extradited to his homeland, where he is accused of fraud.
Mallya, chairman of the UB Group drinks conglomerate and chief executive of the Force India Formula One team, will discover his fate at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
He left India in March 2016 owing more than $1 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds.
The loans from the state-owned IDBI bank were intended to bail out his failed carrier Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya said in July that he had made an “unconditional offer” to an Indian court in a bid to settle the charges, but denies that was an admission of guilt.
“I cannot understand how my extradition decision... and my settlement offer are linked in any way,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
“Wherever I am physically, my appeal is ‘please take the money’. I want to stop the narrative that I stole money,” he added.
The case is being heard by England’s Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who handles the most complex extradition cases.
“The focus of our case is on his conduct, how he misused the banks,” lawyer Mark Summers, representing the Indian authorities, said during an earlier hearing.
He told the court that Kingfisher Airlines had been incurring losses and was forced to defer payments to its creditors. It sought loans in October 2009 and hoped to emerge from the global financial crisis as a profitable venture.
“This was an airline in trouble at this stage, which is why it was seeking financial assistance from a large number of banks,” for large amounts of money, Summers said.
Known for his lavish lifestyle, Mallya made Kingfisher beer a global brand.
He stepped down as the director of the Indian Premier League cricket team Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.
His financial dealings are being investigated by the federal Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, a financial crimes agency.
Mallya was once known as the “King of Good Times” but dropped off India’s most wealthy list in 2014, engulfed by Kingfisher Airlines’ massive debts.
He has been living in a sprawling $15 million (13 million euro) mansion in southeast England but has denied absconding.