Italy expels more Cap Anamur immigrants

22nd July 2004, Comments 0 comments

22 July 2004, ROME - All but five of the 37 African immigrants who reached Italy last week aboard the Cap Anamur German relief vessel have now been sent back to their country of origin after being denied political asylum in Europe, media reports said.

22 July 2004

ROME - All but five of the 37 African immigrants who reached Italy last week aboard the Cap Anamur German relief vessel have now been sent back to their country of origin after being denied political asylum in Europe, media reports said.

A group of 27 immigrants from Ghana boarded an Accra-bound flight in Rome early on Thursday. Previously, five other immigrants were sent back to their home countries of Niger and Nigeria.

Five other immigrants, including one described by Italian officials as a minor, were still reported in Italy.

The immigrants had requested political asylum immediately after their arrival in Sicily's Porto Empedocle, three weeks after being rescued at sea by Cap Anamur officials, but their demands were rejected.

"None of them classify as refugees," Minister of the Interior Giuseppe Pisanu told parliament Wednesday.

Pisanu, citing the preliminary results of an investigation underway in Sicily, also accused Cap Anamur of using the immigrants to create "a huge publicity stunt" for their organisation, which survives on donations and specialises in rescuing boat-people.

The affair originated several weeks ago, when the Cap Anamur ship rescued 37 shipwrecked African immigrants off Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The ship spent nearly three weeks off the Italian coast before finally being allowed to dock in a Sicilian port after its captain said some of the immigrants were threatening to throw themselves overboard.

Cap Anamur officials claimed the immigrants had fled war-torn Sudan.

DPA

Subject: German news

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