On Tuesday, Major General Khaled Al-Mahjoub said that the Italian fishermen who have been detained in Benghazi, will appear before the Public Prosecutor, and be tried according to Libyan law.
The Director of the Department of Moral Guidance in the Libyan National Army (LNA), added that the 18 Italians are in excellent health, and are treated well. “We treat them with respect in accordance with international laws, and human rights,” Al-Mahjoub said.
“They have also had the opportunity to contact their families,” he confirmed. “We would not arrest anyone, unless they violated the law; and the Italian sailors violated the territorial and economic waters of Libya,” he claimed.
On 29 September, the authorities in eastern Libya referred the fisherman to a military prosecutor. This is according to Brigadier General Muhammad Al-Warshafani who said that the fishermen have been transferred to the Military Prosecution and will be referred to the Military Court in Benghazi.
Al-Mahjoub said that “The leader of the LNA, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, has 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”.