Italian coast guard boards Sea-Watch 3 as captain defies port blockade

The European Court of Human Rights, on Tuesday, rejected a request by migrants stranded on the ship to force Italy to provide a port of safety • Italian authorities board Sea-Watch 3

The Sea Watch 3 entered Italian territorial waters just after 2pm on Wednesday on its way to Lampedusa
The Sea Watch 3 entered Italian territorial waters just after 2pm on Wednesday on its way to Lampedusa

Italian authorities have boarded the Sea-Watch 3 preventing it from docking in Lampedusa.

They checked the ship and the crew passports and are now awaiting instructions from their superiors. I really hope they will bring the rescued migrants down soon,” the rescue vessel’s captian Carola Rackete said in a video uploaded to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.  

The ship entered Italian territorial waters earlier today, defying Italy’s port blockade in a bid to disembark 42 rescued migrants in Lampedusa. It was eventually stopped by two patrol boats three miles from port.

The decision to defy the Italian authorities was taken by Rackete on Wednesday afternoon.

It comes 24 hours after the European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal by the migrants to demand that Italy allow them to disembark.

The migrants have been on board the ship for two weeks, circling just outside territorial waters off Lampedusa.

Rackete and her crew could face a €50,000 fine, criminal action and the confiscation of the vessel as a result of Italy’s harsh law.

She said that after 14 days “no political and judicial solution was found” and insisted that “Europe has abandoned us”.

Italy’s hardline Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini said in a tweet that Lampedusa and Italy were in need of “tourists that pay and not illegal immigrants that it must maintain”.

Sea Watch 3 has been circling outside Italian territorial waters off the coast of Lampedusa.

The migrants were rescued off Libya on 12 June and Sea Watch 3 refused to take them back to the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Libya is deemed to be unsafe by the UN, in the wake of ongoing internal conflict.