Proceedings against IUVENTA suspended: Prosecution failed to respect basic standards for a fair trial

June 15, 2022

Court of Trapani (Sicily), 15.6.22: The trial against four crew members of the IUVENTA and 17 other defendants charged with “aiding and abetting unauthorised immigration” was suspended due to procedural errors by the prosecution. The judge rejected the prosecution’s claim that the procedural errors could be ignored. Instead, he followed the defence’s argument that the prosecution had failed to inform the defendants about crucial aspects of the proceedings, thus violating fundamental rights of the defendants. He therefore returned the case to the public prosecutor’s office to correct these errors. The reopening of the trial is expected in autumn. 

After five years of investigation, the prosecution has had enough time to conduct due process and it would not be appropriate to rush the proceedings now, argues defence attorney Francesca Cancellaro.

If the cost of a faster trial will be a sacrifice of the defendants’ rights, then this is not fair. Respect of our clients’ rights, and the innocence of the crimes of which they are accused, are two parts of the same issue.”

Francesca Cancellaro

Ensuring proper notice to defendants of the charges against them and the dates of court hearings pertaining to these charges are a pillar of fair trial rights and the rule of law. While financially and socially privileged defendants may be able to rely on their lawyers to relay such crucial information, many defendants do not have such privilege, nor should they need it.

Allison West, Senior Legal Advisor with ECCHR


We welcome the judge’s decision to ensure a proper procedure. The prosecution’s indictment as well as the evidence against us is poor and constructed. Yet it makes me angry that this investigation has taken more than five years already, while justice is continuously delayed and remains denied.

Kathrin Schmidt, one of the IUVENTA defendants

The IUVENTA crew condemns the ongoing prosecution and insists that the charges against them should have been dropped long ago. If convicted, the accused face up to 20 years in prison. Amnesty International, ECCHR and the UN Special Rapport on the situation of human rights defender, Mary Lawlor also call for the immediate termination of the proceedings.