A Maltese special operations team on Thursday boarded a tanker that had been hijacked by migrants it rescued at sea, and returned control to the captain, Malta’s armed forces said.
The vessel arrived in Boiler Wharf among heavy police and military presence at around 8.30am.
MaltaToday reports that the “108 men and women who overpowered a motor tanker that was about to take them back to Libya against their will, were acting in self-defence, rescue NGOs have said.
108 boat migrants fleeing persecution and torture in Libya were rescued in Libyan territorial waters by the ‘El Hiblu 1’, when the ship attempted to return them to Libya.”
Earlier the Armed Forces of Malta issued a statement that’s they had established communications with the Captain of Motor Tanker ELHIBRU 1 when it was about 30NM away and still proceeding towards Malta. The Captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta. AFM Patrol Vessel P21 stopped the tanker from entering the Maltese territorial waters.
An AFM Special Operations Unit team was dispatched to board and secure the vessel in order to hand over control of the ship to the Captain. The team was backed up by AFM Patrol Vessel P51, two Fast Interceptor Craft, and one the AFM’s AW 139 helicopters. P21 kept on escorting and monitoring the tanker throughout the operation.
The tanker, her crew and all migrants are being escorted by the AFM to Boiler Wharf to be handed over to the Police for further investigations; estimated time of arrival 0830hrs.