An Italian prosecutor in Catania, Sicily, ordered on Monday the seizure of the Spanish rescue group Proactiva Open Arms’ ship and is considering criminal charges against two members of its crew and the founder of the NGO after they refused to hand a group of illegal immigrants over to Libyan Coast Guard.
Proactiva was accused by the Italian Coast Guard of facilitating the flow of migrants into the Italian soil.
Proactiva rescue vessel was granted permission to dock in Sicily with more than 200 migrants on board because of the fragile health of the migrants and worsening weather.
“The boat, the Open Arms, had rescued the migrants from a small vessel that was foundering in international waters in an area of the Mediterranean Sea where patrols are Libya’s responsibility.” Italian Coast Guard reported.
Proactiva said it declined Libyan Coast Guard orders because of its concerns about the conditions in which returned migrants are being held in Libya.
Earlier, The Libyan Coast Guard said one of its boats was on a rescue mission after given details of a boat in need of help in the sea by the Italian coastguards' command, but the interference of Proactive had spoiled the rescue mission.