El Hiblu 3: 1,000 signatories ask Attorney General to drop charges

Campaign activists and former President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca delivered an open letter to the Attorney General asking her to drop the charges

Photo: Amnesty International
Photo: Amnesty International

Over 1,000 people and organisations have called on the Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg to drop the charges against Amara, Abdalla and Kader, known collectively as the El Hiblu 3.

The letter was delivered to Buttigieg on Thursday, with signatory and former President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca joining campaign activists to deliver the letter.

The list of signatories include several Members of the European Parliament and multinational groups like Amnesty International and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. 

Several local organisations of the Catholic Church opted to sign the letter too. These include the Migrants Commission, the Justice and Peace Commission in the Archdiocese of Malta, and the Jesuit Refugee Service. 

The three teenagers were accused in 2019 of having committed acts of terrorism, threatening a crew and hijacking a ship.

They were held in prison for almost eight months before being released on bail in November 2019.

The teenagers were among 105 people who were rescued by the crew of an oil tanker, the El Hiblu 1, on their way to Malta. However, the crew tried to return them to Libya instead of taking them to a safer port.

As the migrants recognised the Libyan shore, they protested and panicked, with some threatening to throw themselves overboard.

Amara, Abdalla and Kader helped defuse the situation and acted as translators and mediators between the passengers and crew.

The open letter details how Amara, Abdalla and Kader have had to register at the police station every day as part of their bail conditions, while attending monthly hearings in the Maltese law courts.

“As the El Hiblu 3 pre-trial hearings come to a close in Malta, the Attorney General must now decide which charges to bring against the three young men,” the letter reads. “We thus reiterate our demand that all charges be dropped and the trial be dismissed immediately.”

Read the letter here.