Spanish migrant rescue ship under "preventative detention" in Italy: charity

Spanish migrant rescue ship under

Spanish migrant rescue ship under "preventative detention" in Italy: charity

Bertaud's remarks came after Italian prosecutors seized a ship run by the Proactiva Open Arms NGO when it docked in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Saturday with 216 people aboard after declining a request to hand over all women and child migrants on board to Libyan coastguard.

The case comes amid reluctance in Europe to take any more immigrants from North Africa and worldwide efforts to stem the migrant flow across the Mediterranean.

In such cases, the Libyan coastguard frequently intervenes before a rescue ship sent by the Italian authorities arrives.

Proactiva said the investigation stems from its refusal last Thursday to hand over to Libya's coast guard 218 migrants it had just saved in worldwide waters north of Libya, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Europe.

Founder of Proactive Open Arms, Oscar Camps, told Catalunya Radio the ship was under "preventative detention" in Pozzallo and confirmed that Italian police had taken the ship's captain, Marc Reig, and the head of Proactive Open Arms on the boat to a local police station on Sunday. The Libyan coast guard was "very aggressive" toward the Open Arms crew, Camps said, adding that his organization had "a legal duty" to save the migrants.

On Thursday, the rescue ship went to the aid of two boats that were in difficulty 73 miles off the Libyan coast, after being alerted by the Italian coastguard.

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