‘My actions were justified’: Sea Watch captain Carola Rackete defends bringing rescued migrants to Italy

The German captain of rescue vessel Sea Watch 3, Carola Rackete, who was temporarily arrested in Italy for docking without permission so she could let rescued migrants land, said on Tuesday her "actions were justified".

'My actions were justified': Sea Watch captain Carola Rackete defends bringing rescued migrants to Italy
Carola Rackete outside court in southern Italy in July 2018. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Rackete, 31, was arrested on June 29th and held for several days after the Sea Watch 3 hit an Italian police speedboat while entering the port of Lampedusa island despite a ban from entering Italy's waters.

She faces an Italian investigation on allegations of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and entering Italian waters in violation of the ban.

“I am still under investigation by the Italian authorities but am I worried? Honestly no, because my actions were justified,” she said in Barcelona as she picked up a gold medal from the Catalonia's regional parliament, the chamber's highest award.

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Photo: Marcello Paternostro/AFP

Italy's interior minister at the time, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigration League, reacted furiously to Rackete's actions, calling her a threat to national security.

The Catalan parliament also awarded a gold medal to the founder of Spanish migrant rescue charity Proactiva Open Arms, Oscar Camps, whose boat spent three weeks in August stranded off the coast of Italy because Rome refused it permission to dock and unload the migrants it had on board.

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Under new laws introduced by Salvini, ships that enter Italian waters without authorization face a fine of up to €1 million. The ships can also be seized.

Italy bans private rescue ships from bringing migrants ashore, arguing it has borne too much responsibility for handling migration to Europe. However Italy's new coalition government, which excludes Salvini's anti-migrant party, is facing calls to ease the ex-interior minister's hardline immigration rules.

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