23 days ago
Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, announced the hijack on Wednesday evening.
According to the Maltese media, a special military unit is already operating on the ship with the task of returning power to the captain. Once this is done and the ship docks in Malta, the migrants will be handed over to the police.
The cargo ship El Hiblu 1 had been hijacked by migrants after its crew picked them up from the sea. A total of 108 people were rescued - 77 men and 31 women. But when the vessel headed back to Libya, the migrants overpowered the crew and took control of the ship.
It happened just 11 kilometers from Tripoli; then the ship changed course and the migrants headed north with the aim of docking in either Malta or Lampedusa.
"These are not migrants in need, they are pirates, they will only see Italy through a telescope," said Salvini, who, after taking office as Minister of the Interior last June, did not hesitate to close down the Italian ports for migrant NGO ships to fight migration. "It's clearly a case of organized crime," Salvini said on Facebook immediately after the hijacking was discovered.
Salvini had previously been a protagonist of a number of tense situations when he did not allow humanitarian ships with migrants to dock in Italian ports.
This month, the Italian Parliament rejected the prosecutor's request to investigate Salvini for the case of last August when he blocked an Italian coastguard vessel with 150 migrants on board for almost a week before the ship was finally admitted to the port of Sicily.