Iuventa ship destroyed in Italian custody, the crew filed a criminal complaint

February 19, 2023

19.02.2023, Trapani The iuventa crew filed a criminal complaint to the Trapani Prosecutor’s Office on 12.02.2023, requesting an investigation into the abandonment and destruction of the rescue ship iuventa.

As a vital part of the civil fleet, the iuventa was in constant operation until its seizure in summer 2017. The crew assisted more than 14.000 people in distress. Today, after almost 5 years in custody of the Port Authority of Trapani, the iuventa is abandoned, plundered and largely demolished. It is currently in danger of sinking and poses a real threat to the environment.

The report which followed the technical inspection carried out in October 2022, commissioned by the owners of the vessel and authorised by the G.I.P of Trapani, indicates that “once on board it was evident that the ship has been in a state of total abandonment from the date of seizure” because “no ordinary or extraordinary maintenance has been carried out”. According to the report, there is a risk that essential parts of the ship are no longer functional, while some of them have been stolen. As a first consequence of this investigation, the G.I.P. of Trapani ordered the repair and restoration of the iuventa on 08.12.2022.

Nicola Canestrini, iuventa lawyer: “Negligence in custody is a crime under Italian law. We expect a thorough investigation which will assess if and who violated their duty to maintain the perfect functionality of the seized sea rescue vessel, which was completely abandoned.”.

The Port Authority of Trapani is responsible for the ship while in custody and should have provided effective guarding. However, the ship was completely unguarded, in particular after its transfer out of a secure area of the port in spring of 2021. The authorities were aware of a series of incidents in which people had entered the ship, thefts and destruction had been committed and even the presence of people living inside the vessel had been detected. This, as well as the deteriorating condition of the ship, was denounced to them multiple times throughout the years. Nevertheless, no appropriate measures were taken.

Sascha Girke, iuventa-crew:“The Italian state has not only reduced the capacity of the civil fleet by seizing the iuventa, but has abandoned the ship and contributed to the destruction of an asset that could have saved lives. In a context where the Italian government and state policies are obsessed with hindering the operations of the civil fleet, directly and indirectly violating the fundamental rights of people on the move, including the right to life, we consider the confiscation of rescue assets and their destruction as part of the same strategy.”

Since the seizure of the iuventa, according to IOM – Missing Migrants Project, at least 10,000 people have lost their lives in the Central Mediterranean, and more than 100,000 have been intercepted and kidnapped by the so-called Libyan coast guard.