Second investigation launched against Save the Children boat docked in Malta

Catanese prosecutors are alleging that the boat Vos Hestia, which docked in Malta on Monday was in cahoots with traffickers facilitating clandestine immigration

Save the Children boat Vos Hestia docked in Malta last Monday. Photo:
Save the Children boat Vos Hestia docked in Malta last Monday. Photo:

Prosecutors in Catania have alleged that the boat ‘Vos Hestia’, of Save the Children, is working with illegal traffickers to facilitate clandestine immigration.

The investigators claim that some NGO members were involved not only in direct contact with the traffickers but also shared some strategies with them for rescues and migrant transfer.

The search and rescue boat has been docked in Malta since Monday, as reports that the Libyan navy was threatening humanitarian vessels in Save the Children’s patrolling zones surfaced.

“A second investigation may overwhelm the NGOs,” Save the Children said in a reaction to the news.

This is the second investigation against search and rescue organisations, after prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro made waves last April when he reported that some NGOs, including Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), “could be financed by traffickers”.

The first Trapani investigation is, however, “far less serious” according to Save the Children, as it alleges that only some NGO members have made contact with illegal traffickers.

“People aboard the [NGO] ships are clearly aware of the time and place where they will find vessels carrying migrants, so they are clearly previously informed,” chief Trapani prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio said.

Catania prosecutors however claim that the criminal activity is not sporadic or individual but an organized liaison between rescue crews and the traffickers.

In an interview with Italian paper Quotidiano, former Save the Children security officer Lucio M., said that the NGO is focused on business rather than saving lives.

"The NGOs don't give a hoot about migrants. It's only a business of the moment,” he sated, arguing that he faced threats from STC before speaking out.

Lucio also claims that STC is purposefully hiring Eritrean and Libyan men who liaise with traffickers, giving them the exact position of boats full of asylum-seekers.

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