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A German boat captain could face 20 years in coustdy for her Mediterranean rescue work after charge co-operating with smugglers to traffic migrants to Italy. Pia Klemp faces trial in Italy for assisting illegal immigration after her boat was impounded in 2017. Supporters of the 35-year-old from Bonn hail her as a humanitarian who has been personally responsible for hundreds of rescue missions. But Italian authorities charge that she colluded with smugglers to collect migrants at Mediterranean points and stage rescues at sea.

Pictures taken by undercover officers show human traf-fick-ers 'escorting' vessels packed with asylum seekers before they are transferred to aid boats. However, Klemp has previously insisted that any incriminating pictures were taken in Malta rather than Libya. Italy, under the influence of far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini, has also moved to ban Klemp from sailing around their coasts all together. Klemp has been under investigation since her vessel, the Iuventa, was impounded in the summer of 2017.Speaking to Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung she said she could face 20 years in coustdy and fines.

But she insisted she was ready to brawl her pro-se-cution all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. She also has the backing of 80,000 people who have signed a petition urging Italy to drop the charges. The author of the petition said that charging Klemp and fellow members of private rescue ships would signal the 'unconditional surrender of humanity in Europe.'

She told the paper that although she may face legal travails, the worst thing about the episode is that the money she will use in her defence - partly raised through donations - could have been used on rescue missions. 'But the worst has already come to pass,' she said. 'Sea rescue missions have been criminalized.' Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, has spearheaded a migration crackdown since the country's populist government came to power in 2018.

The hardline minister has repeatedly refused entry to Mediterranean migrants and turned away rescue ships operated by foreign NGOS. In a series of colourful statements he has declared that migrants would only see Italy 'on a postcard' or 'through a telescope'. Klemp is of him but said some of the blame lies with the European Union for failing 'to remember its avowed values: human rights, the right to life, to apply for asylum, and the duty of seafarers to rescue those in at sea.'

German charity Jugend Rettet also came under suspicion of towing boats used to ferry migrants back towards Libya, where most migrants hoping to reach Europe depart, to be reused by smugglers. Details about the collusion were contained in documents outlining the case prepared by pr-ose-cutors in Sicily following months of charges about charities co-operating with smugglers. However, the investigation concluded that there was no evidence that charity members received any money from the traffickers.

Ambrogio Cartosio, the chief pro-se-cutor from the Sicilian city of Trapani who was behind the investigation, said that the motivation of the aid vessels was 'humanitarian'. Migrant arrivals from North Africa and the Middle East have been sharply reduced since a 2015 peak when Europe faced its worst migration problem since WW II.

This is how people reacted to this post:

BJJ and BS - How dare Italy try and save their country from the destruction its recieving!!

m Slim - Humanity become meaningless word for these European countries.

Tomáš Krupa - There is no human right to run to Europe for anyone who does not like at home.

gaby - Taxi is sevice is not a rescue….she was doing smuggler traffic. Nobody can drawn 50 m from african shore in a baloon boat unless they dont have a taxi to transpot them to Italy. i am pretty sure she wasn't do it for free. So….who was paying her?

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