Italy seizes German group’s rescue boat in immigration probe
ROME — Italian authorities ordered a German group’s migrant rescue vessel seized Wednesday, alleging that its crew took on migrants directly from smugglers’ boats near Libya’s coast.
The vessel operated by Jugend Rettet was seized in the port of Lampedusa, a tiny fishing island off Sicily, where many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea in the last few years are taken. While investigators suspect ``the crime of clandestine immigration’’ was committed by some of the Jugend Rettet boat’s crew, prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio told reporters that ``my personal conviction was that the motive is humanitarian, exclusively humanitarian.’’ The preventive seizure of the Dutch-flagged Iuventa was based on evidence that emerged from three episodes in which crew members had contact with human smugglers operating boats crowded with migrants, Cartosio said. One happened in September 2016, two in June.