Maltese navy takes control of tanker hijacked by migrants: statement

Migrant arrivals from North Africa and the Middle East have been sharply reduced since a 2015 peak when Europe faced its worst migration crisis since World War II. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 March 2019
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Maltese navy takes control of tanker hijacked by migrants: statement

  • Maltese army said a special operations team is escorting the vessel to Malta where it was expected to arrive Thursday morning
  • It will then “be handed over to the police for further investigations”

VALETTA: Malta’s armed forces said Thursday they had taken control of a tanker that was hijacked by migrants it had rescued off Libya.
It said a special operations team is escorting the vessel to Malta where it was expected to arrive Thursday morning, to “be handed over to the police for further investigations.”
The Palau-flagged tanker Elhiblu I picked up the migrants on Tuesday evening in waters where Libyan coast guards are responsible, and then headed back to Tripoli.
But six nautical miles from port the ship suddenly changed course and headed north toward Europe.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Wednesday the vessel had been hijacked, and vowed that the migrants would not be allowed to disembark in Italy.
The tanker was about 30 nautical miles from Malta when the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) established communications with the captain.

“The captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta,” the AFM said in a statement.
“AFM Patrol Vessel P21 stopped the tanker from entering the Maltese territorial waters.
“An AFM Special Operations Unit team was dispatched to board and secure the vessel in order to hand over control of the ship to the captain.”
It said the team was backed up by several naval vessels and a helicopter.
The German charity Sea-Eye, whose ship Alan Kurdi was in the rescue zone off Libya and which overheard radio messages between a European military aircraft and the tanker, said the ship picked up 108 migrants including women and children.
Migrants in chaos-wracked Libya face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape, according to the United Nations and aid groups.
Following Rome’s increasingly tough anti-migrant stance, boats that pick up migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean increasingly return them to Libya.
Boatloads of rescued migrants have in recent months refused to disembark in Libya, prompting the authorities there to use force.
The European Union announced on Wednesday it will suspend ship patrols that have rescued tens of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean and brought them to Italy, in the face of deep resistance from Rome’s populist government.
Migrant arrivals from North Africa and the Middle East have been sharply reduced since a 2015 peak when Europe faced its worst migration crisis since World War II.


Official count shows Widodo reelected as Indonesian leader

Updated 21 May 2019
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Official count shows Widodo reelected as Indonesian leader

  • Widodo’s challenger for a second time, former general Prabowo Subianto, has refused to accept defeat and declared himself the winner last month
  • Police this month have arrested 31 Islamic militants they say planned to set off bombs during expected street protests against the election result
JAKARTA, Indonesia: The official count from last month’s Indonesian presidential election shows President Joko Widodo won 55.5% of the vote, the Election Commission said Tuesday, securing him a second term.
The formal result from the April 17 election was almost the same as the preliminary “quick count” results drawn from a sample of polling stations on election day.
Widodo’s challenger for a second time, former general Prabowo Subianto, has refused to accept defeat and declared himself the winner last month.
Thousands of police and soldiers are on high alert in the capital Jakarta, anticipating protests from Subianto’s supporters.
Subianto has alleged massive election fraud in the world’s third-largest democracy but hasn’t provided any credible evidence. Votes are counted publicly and the commission posts the tabulation form from each polling station on its website, allowing for independent verification.
Counting was completed just before midnight and the Election Commission announced the results early Tuesday before official witnesses from both campaigns.
“We reject the results of the presidential election,” said Azis Subekti, one of the witnesses for Subianto. “This refusal is a moral responsibility for us to not give up the fight against injustice, fraud, arbitrariness, lies, and any actions that will harm democracy.”
Under Indonesia’s election law, Subianto can dispute the results at the Constitutional Court.
He and members of his campaign team have said they will mobilize “people power” for days of street protests rather than appeal to the court because they don’t believe it will provide justice.
In a video released after results were announced, Subianto again refused to concede defeat but called on supporters to refrain from violence.
Police this month have arrested 31 Islamic militants they say planned to set off bombs during expected street protests against the election result.