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Heroine or criminal? Sea-Watch 3 Captain Carola Rakete divides opinion

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Heroine or criminal? Sea-Watch 3 Captain Carola Rakete divides opinion
Copyright  Reuters

The German captain of the rescue ship, Sea-Watch 3, which defied the Italian government ban and docked at Lampedusa, has appeared in a Sicilian court. 

Carola Rakete was arrested on Saturday when she docked after spending two weeks in international waters with dozens of rescued African migrants on-board. She was arrested on charges of defying a warship and endangering the lives of four policemen after she squeezed a patrol boat against the quay as she docked. 

The boat has been impounded and is liable for a fine of up to €50,000 euros.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called the incident “a criminal act, an act of war”.

Rebel without a choice?

“Carola was left without a choice. She was left completely alone by the authority of the many countries that she contacted," said Sea-Watch spokesperson Giorgina Linardi.

"For 17 days she received no support at all by any authority, and the only indication that she got was to disembark the people in Libya, a country at war and the very same country from where the people that we rescued were where escaping. Carole did also not expect that level of resistance by the authorities," added Linardi.

Euronews Now spoke to Eduardo Cusumano, an assistant professor of International Law and EU Studies at Leiden University, whose research focuses on the role of non-state actors in military operations and humanitarian crises both on land and at sea. He said it would have been illegal for Rackete to return the migrants to Libya. 

"That would have been illegal under the law of the Netherlands, which is the flag state of the Sea-Watch 3, as the Netherlands is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights." It would have been illegal under Dutch law to take the migrants back to Libya, which does not constitute a place of safety."

Forty-two migrants disembarked in the early hours on Saturday and are being processed.

Watch the full story and hear the reaction from Germany and social media, by clicking onto the player above.

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