Families of Detained Italian Fishermen: PM Conte Refuses to Meet Us


The families of the 18-detained fishermen in Libya have said that the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, refused to meet them several times to discuss their issue, according to Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The families of the Italian fishermen criticized the way their government dealt with and neglected the issue, expressing their suspicion of the existence of what they described as “international schemes that caused the issue to be ignored and marginalized.”

The newspaper quoted a mother of a fisherman as saying that the Libyans fight each other and do not care about the fate of her son, while a young woman of Tunisian origin expressed her concern over the fate of her father, who is also detained with the fishermen, expressing her surprise at the neglect of the case by the Prime Minister.

“They are fighting each other, and my son has been in prison for 60 days without understanding why. Just as I don’t understand that I lost a 24-year-old son at sea to a storm and that now, widow, I am only waiting for the other to return,” a mother told the Italian newspaper.

One of the owners of the fishing boat expressed his surprise at the justification for the detention, as the boat was 60 miles from the Libyan coast, while the territorial waters’ limits in international agreements do not exceed 12 miles.

Some families indicated that the Prime Minister had refused to meet them several times to discuss the issue.

On September 1, the Libyan Navy arrested 18 Italian fishermen for illegally entering Libyan waters. In 2015, four young Libyans were sentenced in Sicily 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.”

The authorities in eastern Libya referred the Italian fishermen detained in Benghazi to a military prosecutor. Major General Khaled Al-Mahjoub said the Italian fishermen will appear before the Public Prosecutor and will be tried according to the Libyan law.