El Hiblu teenagers out on bail after eight months in detention

Teenagers who saved themselves and 105 other refugees from illegal return to Libya have been released on bail

The three teenagers who saved themselves and 105 other refugees on the high seas from illegal return to Libya were released on bail yesterday after almost eight months of detention. The El Hiblu three – 16, 17 and 19 years old today – are accused of terrorism for convincing the crew of the tanker that saved them, to bring them to Malta.

Their bail was provided by the German foundation Zivile Seenotrettung (Civil Sea Rescue). Zivile Seenotrettung manages the money from a fundraiser of German TV entertainers Klaas Heufer-Umlauf and Jan Böhmermann, following the blockade of the Sea-Watch 3 under captain Carola Rackete.

The committee, which consists of representatives of Sea-Watch, Sea-Eye, Seebrücke, Solidarity at Sea and CivilFleet, had already announced the financing of the defence of the El Hiblu three in October.

“The fund enables us to provide support to those who lack other funds quickly and uncomplicated. If people, let along minors, are dragged to court because they stand up for their rights and those of others who are regularly trampled underfoot by the EU, we can support them promptly and purposefully,” said Lea Reisner, of Solidarity at Sea, a member of Zivile Seenotrettung committee.

The three teenagers who have been accused of an act of terrorism when they “hijacked” a merchant vessel and forced it to change course to Malta had told the police that they “would rather die in the Mediterranean than go back to Libya”.

The migrants onboard were initially and allegedly informed that they would be taken to Europe, however the vessel set course for Libya. Upon finding out that they would be returned to Libya, the migrants allegedly used tools to threaten the ship’s crew and force it to change course for Malta.

The ship was eventually boarded by the Armed Forces of Malta’s Special Operations Unit and escorted to Malta.

Lawers Cedric Mifsud, Neil Falzon and Gianluca Cappitta appeared for the three migrant youths.

READ MORE: Merchant ship hijacked by migrants heading towards Malta

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