The Libyan Prosecution is investigating whether the detained Italian fishermen have brought narcotic substances to the north-African country, sources told Libya Review.
A sample of the materials seized on board of their boats is being tested. “The prosecution suspects that these materials are narcotics,” the sources said. A member of the Attorney General’s office told the Nova news agency that the main accusation against the Italian fishermen is to have illegally entered Libyan waters, and fished there.
Major General Khaled Al-Mahjoub, a commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), told Nova that “The leader of the LNA, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, refused to release the fishermen detained in Benghazi, as long as a group of young Libyan men detained in Italy are not released.”
On 1 September, the Libyan Navy arrested 18 Italian fishermen for illegally entering Libyan waters. In 2015, four young Libyans in Sicily 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. Libya is seeking a prisoner swap with the Italian government. Rome has claimed it refused to be “blackmailed.”