Lifeline captain likely to be charged in Malta over 'irregular' ship registration

The Malta police have been interrogating captain Claus-Peter Reisch over the Lifeline’s registration as a pleasure craft in the Netherlands

Lifeline's captain could face court charges over the ship's registration
Lifeline's captain could face court charges over the ship's registration

The police are likely to arraign the captain of migrant rescue ship Lifeline in court over what is being termed as the "irregular" registration of the ship, MaltaToday has learnt.

Claus-Peter Reisch was interrogated at length at police headquarters in Floriana and is expected to be released on police bail, sources said.

They added that Reisch is likely to be charged in court with irregularities on the ship's Dutch registration as a pleasure craft.

The MV Lifeline berthed in Malta on Wednesday evening after spending almost seven days stranded at sea, after it rescued 234 migrants within the Libyan search and rescue area. It had been refused entry into Malta and Italy.

However, on Wednesday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a deal brokered by eight EU member states, including Malta and Italy, to distributed the rescued migrants. The agreement was a condition Malta had laid down when accepting to take in the ship.

Sources said Reisch was interrogated on "flag issues" as well as the fact that the Lifeline was only registered as a pleasure craft in the Netherlands.

The Dutch authorities had even said the vessel was not registered with them, casting doubts on whether it was authorised to fly the Dutch flag.

Upon the ship's arrival in Malta, the captain was advised that action will be taken against him. Two Maltese lawyers were observed assisting the captain while migrants were being disembarked from the ship.

Sources close to the ship said that many boats in the Netherlands had a pleasure boat licence. "This is the norm for boats under a certain tonnage," the sources said.

The latest development comes on the back of growing unease among European governments over the work of migrant rescue NGOs in the central Mediterranean.

There have been calls at European level for the introduction of a code of conduct for these private rescue vessels.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a summit that will have migration high on the agenda.

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