Claus-Peter Reisch, the captain of the rescue vessel MV Lifeline that saved 234 migrants, has been fined €10,000 over the ship’s failure to have the correct registration when entering Maltese waters.
The €10,000 sum will now be distributed among Maltese organisations that help refugees and people in poverty.
Reisch, 57, born in Munich, Germany, revealed rescue operations would begin once again in the coming weeks after the Lifeline team acquired another vessel.
“As long as people continue to risk their lives, and drown, in pursuit of peace and safety, we will extend our hand in support,” MV Lifeline said in a statement
It could have been a lot worse for Reisch. A guilty verdict could have held a 12-month prison sentence. However, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud showed restraint given the context of the case.
The decision was welcomed by Lawyer Neil Falzon, who said this it was “a statement that needs to be echoed loudly across the EU.”
Reisch’s defence team have also announced they intend to launch an appeal against the decision, maintaining his innocence.
The court did declare that the authorities would not be allowed to confiscate the MV Lifeline ship given it did not belong to Reisch. However, it will remain docked until the appeal concludes.
In June 2018, MV Life life saved 234 migrants in the Mediterranean and formed part of the many diplomatic standoffs that have defined the time since Salvini took over.
An ad-hoc agreement between several European countries meant the vessel was eventually able to enter Maltese ports. However, Reisch was charged with entering Maltese territorial waters illegally without proper registration or a licence.
The debate centred around a possible loophole in Dutch legislation.
In the Netherlands, a vessel may be registered under a public registry as is the case in Malta, but it may also be registered through a yacht club. This is done to cater to the many canal and river boats that exist around the country. There is a precedent in Malta to block such vessels, as the authorities appear only to recognise those registered in the public registry.