On Wednesday, the Libyan Embassy in Rome stated that it was monitoring the case of footballers imprisoned in Italy.
The Libyan Embassy pointed out that a meeting had been held to discuss the matter. Ambassador Omar Al-Tarhouni, Counsellor Jalal Al-Mazouhi, and attorney, Mikeli Andrianwa, attended the meeting.
During the meeting, the criminal charges and appeals were reviewed. The lawyer praised the integrity of the Italian judiciary. “The reason for the rulings issued against the footballers was the result of the lack of continuous and real follow-up by the former lawyers,” Andrianwa said.
Ambassador Al-Tarhouni stressed the need to remain in contact with the footballers, and deny the charges against them. “I want to deliver a message to all Libyan youth who believe that the other side of the sea carries with it ambition, life, and happiness. I tell them that the opposite is true.”
In 2015, four young Libyans in Sicily, after a lengthy trial, were sentenced by the magistrates of Catania to 30 years in prison. They were accused of organising a crossing from Libya, in which 49 migrants died.
According to their families, the footballers were far from being human traffickers. The youth were refugees who fled the war to continue their careers as footballers in Germany.
After rumours surfaced about an exchange proposed by Field Marshal Kalifa Haftar, family members of the athletes held protests in front of the Benghazi Naval Base. They demanded not to release the Italian fishermen held in Libya “until the Libyan players are released from Italy.”