NGOs on trial: defendants and court commemorate the victims of Crotone

March 1, 2023

Today’s preliminary hearing against the 21 defendants accused of “aiding and abetting unauthorised immigration” at the court of Trapani was grounded in reality by the facts of Crotone.

On the one hand, shock and consternation in the face of the tragedy. On the other hand, anger and disbelief at its circumstances. The iuventa defendants did a spontaneous intervention in commemoration of the victims. The speech was followed by a minute of silence.

“Signor Giudice,
I would like to begin this statement today,in this courtroom by commemorating those who lost their lives off the coast of Crotone. At the same time while we were sitting in this courtroom on Saturday, they started to fight for their lives.
In a terrible and unambiguous way, the deaths of these people remind us of what is actually being on trial here. And they show us how the Crotone shipwreck is inseparable from this trial.
To say it with the words of Orlando Amodeo – with whom we want to express our solidarity – “Those people could have been rescued. It is not true that the sea conditions made it impossible to approach the boat”.Even we volunteers, with our old converted fishing vessel called Iuventa, saved people in such sea weather. We, Orlando Amodeo, and many others have proved:

It is possible. It is necessary. It is the only right thing to do. Everything else is wrong.
 It is political will that denies these people safe entry, it is political will that forces them onto such boats. It is the reversal from a Mare Nostrum to a Mare Clausum that creates the conditions for hundreds and hundreds of people to die at sea.It wasn’t the bad sea weather – it was the denial of help where it was possible. Trials like this one prevent that help. Therefore, in memory of those who lost their lives, in expressing our deep condolences and respect to those who lost their family members, friends and fellows, and in solidarity with those who still have to make this journey, we request the immediate termination of all trials, the repair and release of the Iuventa as soon as possible. Because the answer to the Crotone disaster is the expansion of rescue capacities at sea and not their confiscation. The answer is safe and legal entry routes and not Fortress Europe. The answer is Ferries not Frontex.

As the hearing progressed today, it was the prosecution that sought to defend Italian jurisdiction and its territorial competence. The judge’s decision on the exceptions raised by the defence is scheduled for the next hearing on 15 March 2023.