‘Alan Kurdi’ rescue ship picks up another 44 migrants

Migrants from the German rescue ship ‘Alan Kurdi’ arrive on an Armed Forces of Malta vessel at its base in Marsamxett Harbor, Valletta, last week. (Reuters)
Updated 09 July 2019

‘Alan Kurdi’ rescue ship picks up another 44 migrants

  • Malta’s coast guard confirmed that it would transfer the migrants to one of its vessels in international waters
  • The ‘Alan Kurdi’ last week rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa

VALLETTA: The migrant rescue boat ‘Alan Kurdi’ has saved another 44 people, including women and infants from their stricken vessel in the Mediterranean, its operator German charity Sea-Eye said on Tuesday.
Malta has agreed to take in those rescued and is sending a vessel to pick them up, the charity said in a statement.
Malta’s coast guard confirmed that it would transfer the migrants to one of its vessels in international waters. Malta’s government did not say whether a deal had been reached for the migrants’ final destination.
The ‘Alan Kurdi’ last week rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa, handing them over to Malta after hard-line Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed Italy’s ports to the vessel.
Sea-Eye said it was alerted to the plight of the latest migrants off the Libyan coast by Tunisian fishermen and a civilian search plane.
The rescued migrants said they had left Zuwara in Libya early Saturday.
Their wooden boat was in Malta’s search and rescue area so Maltese authorities asked a nearby freighter to coordinate the rescue, which told Sea-Eye to take the migrants on board.
“Forty-four people, including four women and three children,” were brought aboard the ‘Alan Kurdi’, Sea-Eye said.
The children are 15 months, three and five years old. The people come from Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guinea, it said.
“A 15-month-old baby should never have to be in such a life-threatening situation,” said Sea-Eye spokeswoman Carlotta Weibl.
The 65 migrants the Alan Kurdi handed over to Maltese authorities on Sunday have already been sent on to other European Union countries.
An Italian customs vessel on Tuesday separately brought 47 rescued migrants into Sicily’s Pozzallo port, Italian media reported.
The migrants had been headed to Lampedusa, an Italian island between Sicily and Libya, but there was no space for them there as hundreds of migrants continue to arrive by their own means or are rescued by authorities.
Salvini has vowed to close Italian ports to charity rescue ships, which he accuses of helping people smugglers.
Interior ministry figures showed that 395 migrants have arrived in Italy since the end of June.
Italian media reported that this year barely one in 10 migrants and asylum seekers has been brought into Italy by charity vessels — the vast majority arrived by other means.
Salvini on Monday said he wanted to deploy military vessels to stop migrant vessels arriving.
Half of the migrants landed in Pozzallo are Tunisian, Italian media reported. Salvini has written to the Tunisian authorities urging a new bilateral deal on handling migrants, including using ferries to repatriate them.
Italy and Malta have repeatedly criticized Europe’s “case-by-case” approach to migrant rescues, which means shipwreck victims spend days or weeks at sea while countries try to agree where they should go.
The Alan Kurdi, which had been banned from entering Maltese and Italian waters, is the third rescue vessel in a week to make headlines.
Some 41 people were finally allowed to step off migrant rescue charity Mediterranea’s Italian-flagged Alex, which arrived at the port on Saturday in an overnight operation that saw the ship seized by authorities.
The boat’s captain Tommaso Stella is being investigated for allegedly aiding illegal immigration.
Salvini last month issued a decree that would impose fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) for the captain, owner and operator of a vessel “entering Italian territorial waters without authorization.”
Authorities on Lampedusa in late June seized a rescue ship belonging to German aid group Sea-Watch, which had forced its way into port with dozens of rescued migrants on board, and arrested its captain, Carola Rackete.
An Italian judge subsequently ordered her freed, saying she had been acting to save lives, a decision which sparked Salvini’s ire but may have encouraged the Alex crew.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.


Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

Updated 53 min 44 sec ago

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

  • The case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

STOCKHOLM: Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain.
Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which accuses him of publishing secret documents related to his WikiLeaks work, has been facing potential charges in Sweden since 2010. The 48-year-old has denied all allegations against him.
Prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said the case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
She said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, “submitted a credible and reliable version of events.”
“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed,” Persson said. 
The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange has been battling potential charges in Sweden since August 2010, when an investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a visit to Stockholm. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest. That was granted two months later.
After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation.
While denying the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden, he sought asylum for protection from possible extradition to the US on charges.
Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status in April 2019. Assange was arrested by British police and sentenced in May to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012. He remains in prison after authorities ruled he was a flight risk and faces an extradition hearing next year to the US to face spying charges