Migrant vessel captain escapes imprisonment
The captain of a illegal migrants rescue ship received fine of €10,000 by a Maltese court, after being found guilty of intruding into national waters almost one year ago without respecting procedures for crossing state borders.
In issuing the fine, the court recommended that the funds be used for charitable migrants causes.
“The court is concerned by the level of rhetoric and racism surrounding this case and migration in Malta,” Joseph Mifsud ,the Magistrate, said in his ruling.
The magistrate also underlined they will not impose 12 month prison sentence, foreseen for this kind of illegal activities, because the court “immediately understood the circumstances of the case”.
Claus–Peter Reisch 57, born in Munich Germany, as captain of the vessel Lifeline, was charged with entering Maltese territorial waters illegally and without proper registration, and a licence.
The MV Lifeline vessel was impounded by transport authorities of Malta in June 2018 after disembarking 234 illegal migrants it had according to their own words “rescued off Libya coasts“. Maltese politicians repeatedly accuse the NGOs of aiding people smugglers, contributing to existence of criminal networks.
The skipper, Mr.Reisch, as subsequently charged with operating a ship that was not registered for rescue operations.
Mr.Reisch gave an explanation to the court that his ship was logged in the Netherlands, but Magistrate Joseph Mifsud said documents supplied by the Dutch Registry clarified they did not recognize the vessel as registered under their flag.
The captain was granted bail on a personal guarantee of €10,000 euros and had to deposit his passport in court. Mr.Reisch was facing a maximum jail term of one year and an €11,600 fine, or a combination of both.
The ship was removed from the custody of the court, but it is unclear what further procedures would be applied.
The court case, and fine do not hinder in any way the activities of the NGO, which is determined to continue, and recruits people to fulfill the mission of transporting illegal migrants from Libyan costs to Europe: “Join our crew too! Apply for one of our rescue missions! “, says the ad of the Lifeline.