EIGHTEEN Italian fishermen arrested in Libya, where they have spent the last three months, finally return home to a huge celebration, thanks to Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte.
Sirens sounded from the entire fleet in the port of Sicily who were celebrating the release of the fishermen on Sunday, December 20.
The fishermen, who were arrested and detained for three months in Libya on charges of illegal fishing in its waters, were escorted by the Italian navy, their boats, the Medinea and the Antartide, have docked in Mazara del Vallo, where their relatives and the mayor were waiting for them.
“Today is a day of celebration, without recrimination or controversy,” said Salvatore Quinci, the Mayor of the town. From tomorrow we need to start a new phase. We need the European Union to be able to become the architect of a new economic policy in this area of the Mediterranean”.
On September 1, the two boats fishing in international waters, forty miles off the coast of Benghazi, were captured by Libyan patrol boats belonging to Marshal Jalifa Hafter, who controls the east of the country.
On Thursday, December 17, Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, and the foreign minister, Luigi di Maio, travelled to Benghazi to negotiate their release of fisherman, which included eight Italians, six Tunisians, two Filipinos and two Senegaleses.
The waters where the events took place are international, according to international treaties, however, in 2005 the then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi decided to extend his country’s sovereignty over them from 12 to 74 miles.
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