The Maltese Government has been blamed by a defence lawyer in Italy in a court case on a migrant tragedy that took place on October 11th 2013 which saw 268 migrants die. The disaster was one of the worst tragedies that took place before the migration crisis became a major issue in Europe.
A judge in Rome has indicted two high-ranking Italian officials, who will be tried on December 3rd, for being responsible for the deaths of the refugees. Back in 2016, Italian navy officers were placed under investigation.
Leopoldo Manna of the Italian coastguard and Luca Licciardi of its navy now face multiple charges of manslaughter and negligence.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Luca Ciaglia, a defence lawyer of Manna, said that the “huge tragedy” was the responsibility of the Maltese authorities who were leading the rescue operations
“We maintain that Malta made mistakes and sent wrong and contradictory communications to Italy.”
“It made it impossible for Italian authorities to assess how dangerous the situation was,” Ciaglia continued. “Italian authorities did what they were asked to do [by Maltese authorities].”
Ciaglia also added that the Maltese government did not undertake a process to see if their officials were responsible for the tragedy.
A horrific tragedy with a chilling recording
Back in 2013, a vessel carrying refugees from Palestine and Syria capsized as it was approaching the shores of Europe. The boat capsized in the search and rescue zone of Malta but was 120 kilometres away from Lampedusa, Italy.
Some Syrian migrants reported that Libyan militiamen were firing on the refugee-vessel due to a trafficking gang dispute.
In 2017, The Italian news outlet L’Espresso had released the haunting phone conversation between Mohammed Jammo, a refugee announcing himself to be a doctor, and the Italian authority responsible for rescuing migrants trapped at sea. After barely getting any response, Jammo calls back, begging, “Is anyone coming for us?” The Italian coastguard then tried to pass off the desperate doctor to the Maltese authorities.
“I give you the number of the Maltese authority – cos you are near Malta.”