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3 acquitted in boat rescue

October 08, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A Sicilian court acquitted three Germans of charges that they had aided illegal immigration by picking up a boatload of African migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.

Humanitarian groups hailed the decision, saying that any conviction would have amounted to criminalizing the rescue of people from dangerous seas.

In 2004, a ship belonging to the Cap Anamur relief group rescued 37 stranded migrants and then searched for a friendly port for weeks before it was permitted to dock in Sicily.

The former Cap Anamur president, Elias Bierdel, boat captain Stefan Schmidt and first officer Vladimir Daschkewitsch were accused of aiding illegal immigration.

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