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  • Captain Carola Rackete disembarks from a Finance police boat in Porto Empedocle, Italy July 1, 2019.

    Captain Carola Rackete disembarks from a Finance police boat in Porto Empedocle, Italy July 1, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 July 2019

"When it comes to offensive, defamatory and hate-provoking statements like those of the Minister, the only way that the judge can stop it is by blocking the accounts."

Captain Carola Rackete of the Sea Watch rescue vessel presented Friday at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Rome a complaint against Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a the far-right politician who is being accused of aggravated defamation and instigation to commit crimes.

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These accusations are based on the threats the German captain received through social media networks and from a crowd of exalted people who gathered when her ship docked at Lampedusa on June 29.

Besides reconstruction, the complaint presents 22 offenses carried out by Salvini through his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Rackete stated that Salvini has repeatedly attacked her with insults, such as hotty, outlawed, accomplice of traffickers, potential murderer, criminal and pirate. This verbal behavior has created a public environment in which the Captain is in a situation of a permanent and potential threat.

The lawsuit transcribes the sexist offenses that appeared in the comments of  Salvini's social media accounts. It also recounts the crowd's cries demanding the Captain be "raped by blacks" when she disembarked the immigrants in Lampedusa.

Salvini's messages generated "a massive and widespread spiral of violence" against her by transmitting "visceral feelings of hatred, denigration, delegitimization and true dehumanization," the lawsuit contends.

The documentation includes a photograph published by Salvini in which the Italian minister appears together with a group of women in uniform and with a photo of Captain Rackete having the words "a criminal."

Being reminiscent of the 'wanted' posters from the Old West, such an image fosters the idea that Carola Rackete is dangerous, which damages her honor and instigates aggression.

Due to the various expressions of public incitement to hatred, the lawsuit requests that Salvini's Facebook and Twitter accounts be blocked.

"When it comes to offensive, defamatory and hate-provoking statements like those of the Minister, the only way that the judge can stop it is by blocking the accounts," Alessandro Gamberini, the lawyer of Captain Rackete, said.​​​​​​​

Salvini replied with a Facebook video whereby he ironically declares himself "very worried" about the legal action filed by "missy Carola."

"The German communist, the one who rammed the police patrol boat, has asked the prosecutor to close my Facebook and Twitter pages," he tweeted and added "so can I only use Instagram?"

The Sea Watch vessel challenged the Italian "Closed Ports" policy by disembarking 40 African migrants who had been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea.

After being detained by the authorities for a few hours, Rackete was released by Alessandra Vela, a female judge from Agrigento (Sicily) who believes that the Captain had a humanitarian duty to rescue the shipwrecked migrants.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Sea-Watch captain must still appear before Italian authorities to face charges of  "favoring illegal immigration."​​​​​​​

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