Migrants confirm MaltaToday’s version of events at sea, as government refuses inquiry

Government and the AFM have come under further pressure to come clean on their statement that 27 Somali migrants had ‘voluntarily’ opted to be transferred onto a Libyan patrol boat and be returned to Libya.

The 27 were part of a group of 55 Somalis who were rescued late Saturday night in an unprecedented  joint Maltese-Libyan operation. However the migrants were split into two groups, one which was brought to Malta and the other returned to Libya.

While government and the AFM have persisted in not replying to the real questions connected to the case, mostly as to who assumed the responsibility of ‘sorting’ out between asylum seekers who were taken to Malta and Libya on the high seas, international pressure is mounting through humanitarian organisations and the media as to what really went on out at sea.

Contrary to the AFM’s version of ‘voluntary repatriation’, two Somali migrants have told MaltaToday that the rest of them were tricked into believing that they were going to be taken to Italy.

The Libyan-flagged boat was in fact a former Italian patrol craft donated to the Libyan government under a recent ‘friendship treaty’ and had Italian speaking personnel on board.

This version of events was further corroborated by The Times today that carried a story about a Somali man now being held at Safi detention centre, who is alleging that his pregnant wife was transferred to a Libyan coastguard vessel during the joint operation on Saturday.

The man said his wife, who is seven months pregnant, was probably now in a Tripoli jail along with the 26 other migrants who were transferred to the Libyan vessel.

"I told the Maltese soldiers that my wife was on the Libyan boat but they kept insisting I also board the Libyan ship and identify her.

"I refused because I knew that both of us would be sent back to Libya, losing all hope of getting out of that place," the man, one of 28 migrants who were brought to Malta, said.

However, the army yesterday denied the allegation and a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said there were no grounds for an inquiry since "none of the allegations are corroborated by the AFM reports of the operation carried out last Saturday."

The army spokesman said none of the individuals who embarked aboard the AFM vessel at anytime during the rescue operation, transit to Malta or subsequent police interviews drew the attention of any Maltese official that he or she had originally been accompanied by a spouse or partner from whom he or she had subsequently been separated.

“In the three cases where soldiers were made aware that people who boarded the Maltese patrol boat were accompanied by spouses, these were identified and reunited with their respective partners on board the AFM vessel,” the spokesman said.

More in National
Michael Gauci
All illegal immigrants should be 'voluntarily' repatriated.
Amidst all this overblown hype on this first boatload of rescued illegal immigrants, nobody is asking for a Libyan version of things!! Everybody is ready to blame the AFM's patrolboat for the outcome of this recovery of, yet another, group of illegal immigrants. And nobody draws distinctions between such migrants, refugees, economic refugees or plain criminals. Nobody is asking if it was the Libyan patrolvessel's crew who actually sorted out who boarded their vessel, and who ought to be allowed to head northwards to Malta! Hell no, it's easy, convenient and fashionable to blame the AFM, the Government of Malta, the Church, Maltese rascist society at large, and any Joe Blow under the sun. The real lies are more than evidently coming from the safely-landed illegal immigrants, as it sticks out like a sore thumb that one or more individuals are claiming ONLY NOW that their spouses went onboard the Libyan vessel. They never pointed it out to AFM sailors on the spot, they never shed light of it to the Maltese Immigration Branch police officers on inprocessing, but behold the latest scoop for the liberal do-gooders, they blurt out the fairy to local NGOs or Medicines Sans Frontier WAY AFTER they are cosy in Maltese detention. What kind of spouse/partner would leave their other half board a vessel that apparently is destined to return that party to a living hell under a corrupt totalitarian regime? A coward, a loving doting spouse? No, a whacking big liar is the more than obvious answer. Inquiry for this sham of a farce isn't worthy of anybody intelligent enough to read all the tell-tale signs of these illegals trying to create empathy by exaggerating their misery or pitiful situation. Karl Stagno-Navarra is investigating all north of B'Bugia on this, but he isn't prodding anybody in Tripoli about it all. Does he need the essential contacts of the Libyan foreign affairs? Or is a cheap Boldrini comment more sexy to spin, sell and publish frontpage someplace? His enthusiasm for the truth musn't run wild with him and this excellent medium. Restraint and all rounded corroboration deserve their due attention at all times, and editors ought to know this better. Other keyboard warriors here ought also to weigh their thoughts' words, and not regurgitate irrelevant tripe and hogwash that fail to stimulate brain and heart. We know that deep down the Maltese AREN'T rascist, but just a bunch of hot-heads who are seemingly more capable of intelligently talking about soccer, the village saints and band clubs, or local politics. Am still awaiting an MLP position statement on this incident, or have I missed it....The fog of all this rhetoric is thick with much hoopla blah-blah, and nothing tangible or durable over the long term!
Alfred Galea
What does the church has anything to do with this?? Let me give you my version as I THINK things happened....... This poor guy saw the former Italian boat with some of the crew speaking Italian and he figures he'll let his wife be taken to Italy and he'll stay in Malta until he finds another human trafficker to take him to Italy. Look at it this way, if he and his pregnant wife, and I don't believe that she was his wife, were travelling together they would stck together like glue so as not to be seperated and not accept to be put on different boats. Now I could be wrong but if a hundred men were put in that situation NONE of them would desert his pregnant wife.
That person who knows that if he went on the other the boat, both of them will face touture. That person who knows that at least now all the world will find out what type of government we have. People who are only good to take photos with Popes and Bishops, but they have no idea what being a Christian really is. Shame on our country, the most Catholic country in the World. One wounders why the Pope does not transfer his headquaters here.
Alfred Galea
["I refused because I knew that both of us would be sent back to Libya, losing all hope of getting out of that place," the man, one of 28 migrants who were brought to Malta, said.] What kind of person would leave his wife and his unborn child facing all that danger in Libya by themselves??