After being questioned by the Agrigento Prosecutor's office in Sicily on Thursday, the captain of the Sea Watch vessel, Carola Rackete, asked the new members of the European Commission (EC) to do everything possible to help migrants saved by humanitarian rescue boats.
Paris Awards Captains Rackete and Klemp for Humanitarian Work
"I sincerely hope that the EC now, after the new election of the parliament, will do its very best to prevent situations like that happening (again) and that all European countries will work together... to accept any people which the civilian fleet has rescued," she said.
Rackete went to the Agrigento Court to answer questions of an investigation against her for "aiding illegal immigration" and entering without permission into Italian territorial waters.
On June 28, the German captain was arrested for unauthorized berthing on the Lampedusa island where she landed 41 African migrants she had rescued at the Mediterranean Sea.
During the interrogation, Rackete presented her logbooks to demonstrate "the declaration of the state of necessity" which forced her to enter Lampedusa.
"It was a normal sea rescue which was totally legal in the face of the dramatic demands that occur in these cases," said her lawyer, Alessandro Gamberini, who confirmed that the 31-year-old Captain is free to leave Italy.
Nevertheless, the investigations will continue to clarify the supposed crimes of favoring illegal immigration and attacking an Italian Finance Guard boat during the Sea Watch docking maneuver.
"Saving migrants in danger at sea is not a crime," UN human rights experts held at a statement issued on Friday, whereby they also urged Italian authorities "to put an immediate end to the criminalization of search and rescue operations."
In exclusive statements for TeleSUR English, the Sea-Watch spokesperson Haidi Sadik commented on the legal procedure carried out in Sicily on Thursday.
"The Sea Watch III vessel remains under provisionary confiscation in Italy as long as these investigations are ongoing, which means we can not summarize our rescue operations," she said.
"Migrants: declining deaths in the Mediterranean. Can we say that Salvini has saved 766 human lives?" The meme reads, "At least 683 migrants and refugees have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year while attempting to reach Europe by sea."
Regarding the consequences this case could have, Sadik said that false accusations, arbitrary confiscations or administrative sanctions are still being carried out across Europe against captains rescuing migrants because some people are looking for "to keep them at bay or prevent them from coming in European soil".
The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has promoted a law which prohibits humanitarian rescue vessels from entering territorial waters and imposes penalties of up to 50,000 euros.
This far-right politician, who faces a lawsuit for his hateful expressions against Captain Rackete, expressed his opinion on the Agrigento hearing.
"The new heroine of the left has been questioned for four hours... Will there be a judge who at least this time will enforce the laws, security and dignity of our country ?," Salvini said, adding that "I cannot wait to expel this flawed German communist."