The court hearing against the captain of the rescue vessel MV Lifeline was postponed to October despite the magistrate saying he could conclude the case in two weeks.
Captain Claus-Peter Reisch’s defense lawyer Cedric Mifsud said the court had not yet received the necessary replies from the Dutch authorities. The magistrate had said he could conclude the case in two weeks but his client was stuck since July because of these delays, Mifsud said.
He also pointed out this was the second delay, after the same had happened when the Attorney General’s office had sent questions to the Dutch authorities that not in the right format. Mifsud said that if there were any further delays, they would be filing an application calling to close off the prosecution’s evidence.
Captain Reisch stopped to speak to Opposition Leader Adrian Delia who was walking out of Court. Delia said he had criticised the government about its lack of planning regarding migration especially when there was such an influx in a short time.
He said the government had an obligation to all – including residents, foreigners and Maltese – and had to plan where the 70,000 people expected in four years where going to be accommodated. It was demeaning to see people sleeping on the streets or in farmhouses, he said.
Delia was criticised by a group of NGOs on Monday who said they were “shocked and disgusted” by his anti-migrant rhethoric the previous day. They accused Delia of using “inflammatory language and calling for affirmation of the Maltese identity”, while accusing non-Maltese nationals of instilling feelings of fear and insecurity, and of “causing havoc with our Maltese identity”.
Before the court hearing, members of MV Lifeline, Sea Watch 3 and Seefuchs – rescue NGOs that have units impounded in Malta – held a mock trial of European leaders, finding them guilty of the fears of 280 people drowning in the Mediterranean.
Crew members walked down Republic Street wearing handcuffs and their hands stained with red paint while wearing masks of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
Keeping the rescue vessels from saving lives was an active omission of protecting human rights and purposely delaying legal processes and disrespecting human rights was a political farce, the NGOs said.