On Thursday, the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio stated that the authorities in eastern Libya released a group of eighteen fishermen after more than 100 days in prison.
“Our fishermen are free. In a few hours they will be able to hug their families and loved ones again. Thanks to AISE (Italian External Intelligence), and to all the diplomatic corps who worked to bring them back home,” Di Maio said.
Di Maio and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met today with the Leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in Benghazi. Di Maio pledged Italian support to the stabilization efforts in Libya.
Conte posted a brief comment on the release of the fishermen, saying: “Good return home.”
The fishermen’s families, who have held several protests demanding their release, gathered outside Mazara del Vallo’s town hall after hearing the news.
On 1 September, the LNA 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 was seeking a prisoner swap with the Italian government.
The eastern-based Interim Government of Libya has not commented on the developments.