The MV Diciotti saga took a new twist as the tensions between the Malta and Italy went to new highs.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on One Radio that the boat, carrying 171 people, transited international waters which Malta is responsible for with regard to rescues.
A Maltese patrol boat monitored it. The migrants’ boat was not in distress and the migrants refused help.
“Since they were in international waters, they had a right of passage and we could not tell them where to go and what to do.”
Prime Minister Muscat said “This was an interception, not a rescue. The migrants are now on board a military vessel, which practically means on Italian soil. I expect Italy would ask other EU states to help, it is up to them, but Malta followed international law,” Dr Muscat said.
Matteo Salvini said that unless the EU will effectively help Italy in a tangible way with the issue of migrants, we will have no option but take the migrants rescued to a Libyan port.
The Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli went on accusing Malta of not doing its parts in saving people and its actions merit sanctions.
The Maltese minister of Home Affairs said that the final solution for the people on board the Diciotti is to have them disembark in Lampedusa or an Italian harbour.
Malta’s Government’s spokesman Kurt Farrugia invited Salvini to do his duty and follow Malta’s example and do its part.
Times of Malta, ANSA, TGCOM, Twitter