Italy Demands Seizure of Migrant Rescue Ship

Sicilian prosecutors accused the vessel of illegally dumping more than 50,000 pounds of suspected "hazardous waste."
Posted at 6:48 PM, Nov 20, 2018

Italian authorities Tuesday called for the seizure of a migrant search-and-rescue ship.

Officials in Sicily accused the operators of the Aquarius vessel of illegally dumping more than 50,000 pounds of potentially "hazardous waste," according to Reuters. Prosecutors allege the Aquarius' crew knowingly mislabeled its toxic waste as regular waste to avoid paying more than $500,000 in waste disposal fees. Along with orders for the ship's seizure, they also ordered some of the operator's accounts to be frozen.

One of the ship's co-operators – Doctors Without Borders – strongly denied the claims in a statement, saying it has always followed standard waste management procedures. It also said it plans to appeal the charges. The ship has rescued thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean Sea since 2016.

The Aquarius made headlines back in June when the Italian government refused to let it dock, leaving more than 600 migrants stranded on the ship. Spain accepted the ship's passengers shortly thereafter on humanitarian grounds.