German refugee shipcaptain questioned

12th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

12 July 2004 , ROME - The captain of a German ship carrying 37 shipwrecked refugees from Africa rescued in the Mediterranean was to be questioned by Italian police Monday, shortly after docking in a Sicilian port. According to the Ansa news agency, Italian officials were to hear Cap Anamur captain Stefan Schmidt as a witness but could yet decide whether to press charges of abetting illegal immigration. The ship, which belongs to a German aid agency, rescued the mostly Sudanese nationals three weeks ago but

12 July 2004

ROME - The captain of a German ship carrying 37 shipwrecked refugees from Africa rescued in the Mediterranean was to be questioned by Italian police Monday, shortly after docking in a Sicilian port.

According to the Ansa news agency, Italian officials were to hear Cap Anamur captain Stefan Schmidt as a witness but could yet decide whether to press charges of abetting illegal immigration.

The ship, which belongs to a German aid agency, rescued the mostly Sudanese nationals three weeks ago but was stuck in international waters after Italian authorities had refused to allow it to dock at Porto Empedocle, in southern Sicily.

The Cap Anamur aid agency in Cologne said the ship had finally been allowed to enter Italian waters on Sunday. It was allowed to dock on Monday.

The decision followed a message from the captain describing increased tension on the ship and reassurances from Cap Anamur that the refugees had handed written applications for asylum in Germany to the captain.

Italian authorities had been refusing to allow the ship to dock on its territory, saying the refugees were first rescued in Maltese waters and should be taken to Malta. The captain, meanwhile, said he had picked up the survivors near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The United Nations had entered the dispute on Friday by urging Italy to end the stand-off and allow the survivors to be brought ashore.

The immigrants were to be hosted temporarily in a refugee centre in Sicily while waiting to see if their request for asylum had been accepted by Germany.

 

DPA

Subject: German news

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