Italian authorities in Agrigento have brought criminal charges, including charges of unlawful killing, against 5 men from Ghana and Nigeria who are accused of throwing fellow migrant passengers into the sea from a disabled migrant boat this past August. The victims are alleged to been selected based upon their ethnicity or nationality. The boat in question was carrying over 300 migrants from Libya towards Lampedusa in August when it became disabled. Italian patrol boats rescued the survivors on 4 August. Italian authorities at the time accused NATO of failing to act to assist with the rescue of the boat.
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Criminal Charges Brought in Italy Against 5 Men Accused of Murdering Passengers On Disabled Migrant Boat
The chief criminal prosecutor of Agrigento, Sicily, Renato Di Natale, has opened criminal cases on charges of illegal immigration against the Tunisians who arrived in Lampedusa over the past several weeks. Cases have been opened against hundreds of Tunisians and additional cases will be opened as the migrants are identified. The chief prosecutor described the opening of the criminal cases as routine procedure which would occur in any case involving the arrival of a suspected illegal immigrant. The prosecutor said additional charges of providing false information could be added if it is discovered that a migrant provided a false name. If an individual migrant were to be given status as a political refugee, the criminal case would be dropped.
Bringing criminal charges against traffickers or smugglers would seem reasonable, but it strikes me as a poor use of limited state resources to open criminal investigations against the overwhelming majority of the Tunisians who have arrived in Italy in recent weeks. Even if the cases do not proceed, one would think that Italian authorities could respond to this situation differently.