20 March 2019 Italian rescue ship Mare Jonio seized in Lampedusa

On March 20, the Italian rescue ship Mare Jonio was seized by Italian authorities in Lampedusa. Mare Jonio is operated by the ONG “SOS Méditerranée” and is carrying out the humanitarian mission “Mediterranea Saving Humans”. It is the only humanitarian vessel currently operating in the Mediterranean. The ship had rescued 49 migrants near the Libyan coast when it was intercepted by the Italian Guarda di Finanza, ordering the Mare Jonio to halt in international waters. The captain of the ship decided against it and led the ship to the nearest safe port in the island of Lampedusa escorted by the Guarda di Finanza, who seized the vessel once the migrants disembarked. Prosecutors in Agrigento have opened an investigation on the grounds of favoring clandestine smuggling and the captain and members of the crew of the Mare Jonio are to be questioned.