Lanuza says Malta’s coast guard was contacted but an Italian coast guard vessel arrived to escort the migrants because their boat was closer to Lampedusa than to Malta.
The captain of a German group’s rescue ship disobeyed orders from Italian authorities and entered Lampedusa’s port Saturday to disembark 40 rescued migrants.
A lawyer says the captain of a migrant rescue ship intended no harm when she hit an Italian border police motorboat while trying to bring 40 migrants to port in Italy’s southern Lampedusa island without authorization.
The lawyer, Salvatore Tesoriero, told reporters Sunday that Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete “had no intention of hurting anyone” when she steered the ship operated by German nonprofit group Sea-Watch toward the dock and rammed the police patrol boat.
The 31-year-old Rackete is under house arrest. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called her a “criminal” who committed an “act of war” by ignoring orders to keep out of Italy’s waters.
Tesoriero says Rackete only wanted to help “desperate” migrants and get them safely to land. Sea-Watch 3 picked up the 40 migrants off Libya on June 12. The 31-year-old captain spent weeks in a standoff with Italian authorities over whether her passengers would be allowed to disembark.
Before dawn Saturday, Rackete plowed ahead, determined not to let the police motorboat stand in her path. According to Italian news reports, some of the officers on the motorboat jumped onto the dock for safety.
At Italy’s insistence, five fellow European Nations said they would take the 40 migrants from Sea-Watch 3.
Thousands of people have donated money to cover the legal costs of a German woman arrested after the humanitarian rescue ship she captained docked in Italy in defiance of the country’s anti-migrant interior minister.
German television celebrities had appealed to the public to financially support Carola Rackete, soliciting more than 300,000 euros ($341,400) by early Sunday.
Rackete was arrested early Saturday after her ship, the Sea-Watch 3 with 40 rescued migrants on board, rammed an Italian border police motorboat that was blocking Sea-Watch 3’s path to the dock in Lampedusa.
No one was injured but the motorboat’s side was damaged. If convicted, the 31-year-old risks up to 10 years in prison.
She also risks a fine as high as 50,000 euros ($58,000) under a law cracking down on private rescue vessels.