German police investigating Libyan attack on Sea-Eye rescue ship

Watch the video of Libyan militia firing warning shots during Sea-Eye rescue on high seas

Photo: Zoe Hansen
Photo: Zoe Hansen

The public prosecutor’s office in Hamburg has instructed the German federal police to open investigations into the attack of a Libyan militia on Sea-Eye rescue ship.

Libyan authorities were accused of provoking a dangerous incident inside international waters as a migrant charity boat rescued people at risk of drowning.

According to Sea-Eye, the Libyans positioned themselves between the Alan Kurdi and the rubber boat to stop the rescue efforts. “In panic, people started jumping off the white rubber boat to reach the rescue boats of the Alan Kurdi. The Libyan militia threatened the captain via radio with aiming their boat’s mounted guns at the German ship. The captain sent the majority of the crew to the back of the ship to minimise the danger to them,” Jan Ribbec, Sea-Eye director of mission said.

Dramatic scenes and tension as Libyan militia attempts to stop migrant rescue

The situation further escalated when warning shots were fired into the air and water.

Ribbec said the Libyans aimed their mounted guns at the people in the water. Another witness, head of mission Joshua Wedler, said the Alan Kurdi was unable to manoeuvre at this point, because the Libyan boats had positioned themselves in such a way that the ship could neither move forward or back.

“If the German judiciary has to investigate its own federal government’s Libyan partners, this shows which dubious partners at EU level are trying to stop the flight across the Mediterranean at any cost. The protection of human life does not seem to be a priority. When people on the run and the Alan Kurdi rescue teams are threatened, we need no further expression of concern, but an end to cooperation with armed forces,” Sea-Eye spokesman Julian Pahlke said.

The news comes amid reports that Malta has brokered a secret deal with the Libyan government to prevent boats of migrants and refugees from reaching the Maltese search-and-rescue, whereupon it would be incumbent at law that the Maltese take in the asylum seekers.

ARD television programme Monitor recently revealed the affiliation of the Libyan forces to the so-called maritime police, finding evidence that the boats belong to the maritime forces in Libya funded by the EU.

“There is evidence in other media that this so-called maritime police has been equipped and trained by both Frontex and the Italian Coast Guard.

“It is frightening to see who the European member states use as bouncers here. It is not the civilian rescue organisations that are encouraged, but violent and armed Libyan militias. Just because the federal government uses a violent partner to carry out acts contrary to international law does not mean that it is not at least indirectly responsible for these crimes. We need to return to policies that protect human lives and condemn such crimes,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye.

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