Updated | Lifeline ship captain granted permission to travel to Germany

Claus-Peter Reisch requested permission to travel abroad to visit his elderly mother

Captain Claus-Peter Reisch (left) exiting the courthouse in Valletta with two activists from the Lifeline (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Captain Claus-Peter Reisch (left) exiting the courthouse in Valletta with two activists from the Lifeline (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The captain of the migrant rescue ship MV Lifeline, Claus-Peter Reisch, has been given permission by a court to travel to Germany to visit his elderly mother.

Reisch, 57, has been charged with entering Maltese waters without permission and with vessel registration irregularities. The ship was impounded after the Maltese government allowed it to disembark 233 migrants in Malta following a standoff with Italy.

Eight other countries eventually agreed to share the migrants with Malta.

The decree was handed down this morning by Magistrate Joe Mifsud, who is hearing the case.

Reisch had initially been given bail but was told to stay in Malta until the case was heard. In the last sitting, he had asked the court to allow him to visit his 93-year-old mother.

The magistrate, who yesterday made on on-site inspection on the vessel in Senglea, today accepted the captain’s request.

During the sitting, the magistrate slammed media outlets for misleading the public on the MV Lifeline case. “Things are being reported as facts, when they were comments which did not form part of the evidence which the court will be deciding on,” said magistrate Joe Mifsud in a proclamation this morning.

It wasn’t true that the court had refused a request by defence lawyers Cedric Mifsud, Neil Falzon and Gianluca Cappitta that proceedings be held in English, as had been reported, he said. “It was a person who identified himself as an Italian lawyer who stood up and asked for a translation. He has no right of audience in these proceedings. The court…followed the dispositions of the Judicial Proceedings (Use of the English Language) Act and subarticle (2) of Section 516 of the Criminal Code.”

Yesterday’s sitting was held on board the Lifeline itself after the magistrate held a site visit as part of his inquiry. At the same time, an application presented by captain Claus-Peter Reisch in which he asked to be allowed bail to visit his 92-year-old mother was discussed. “This was all agreed between the defence and the prosecution and coordinated with Captain Reisch,” explained the magistrate, clarifying that only court experts and one Dutch shipping registrar representative were still to testify.

“And if some members of the crew of the MV Lifeline, as reported in the Shift news, went to Court in Valletta for the sitting it was because of a lack of communication between them and their colleagues, amongst them Claus-Peter Reisch,” said the court, pointedly. 
The Captain had been informed of the arrangements made to facilitate those involved.

The magistrate ended with a veiled warning to those who would misrepresent his words, warning that the Press Act prohibited legal action being taken against publications on court proceedings “as long as the reports are faithful accounts of the proceedings.”

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