In an interview with the Italian Newspaper “La Stampa”, the italian attorney Carmelo Zuccaro repeatedly made imaginary accusations concerning a supposed cooperation among civil rescue organisations and smugglers. Thereby, he takes part in a campaign that defames those who rescue lives. For a representative of a sovereign judiciary this is not just unworthy but illegitimate. Sea-Watch considers legal steps.
“Publicly stating fabricated accusations against humanitarian organisations without even contacting them is a scandal for a representative of the judiciary”, says Sea-Watch chief executive officer Axel Grafmanns. “Zuccaro thereby involves himself in a smear campaign against us that is driven by representatives of Frontex and Lega Nord. He even states that he doesn’t even know how to make use of the alleged evidence and still takes part in that campaign. Sea-Watch now reviews the legal situation concerning the defamatory statement”, says Grafmanns.
“It is not surprising that Frontex tries to make some dead wind against us. We frustrate their concept of the calculated letting die as a means of migration control, therefore we are a thorn in their side. But what is surprising, is the fact that a representative of the judiciary degrades himself to take an active role in this obvious diffamation campaign”, states Sea-Watch board member Frank Dörner. “Zuccaro made himself unacceptable for the Italian judiciary!”
“It is especially sneaky that Zuccaro tries to divide the rescue organisations: While he does not address the financially strong NGOs that dispose of a structure for legal counselling, he grills the smaller organisations and hopes to harm the rescue fleet as a whole. This cowardice will not succeed, we will not let this divide us”, Dörner says.
“The allegations are an insult to the many supporters of our organisation: private citizens or celebrities, 75 parishes in Germany alone, support by kindergartens, donations from birthday parties and company events. We do not have a problem concerning transparency of our financial situation, Zuccaro could have simply asked us”, Dörner states. “We are waiting for the presentation of the so-called evidence very calmly.” Zuccaro had claimed, search and rescue organisations would receive money from human traffickers. Moreover, Zuccaro had suggested NGOs cooperate with smugglers by sending light signals to attract refugee boats.
“Obviously, our ships are illuminated by night, these are the regulations at sea”, CEO Axel Grafmanns explains. “Instead of making up what all we could have done illegally, Zuccaro should acknowledge that we are doing a job at Europe’s deadly borders that should be the work of the EU herself. Instead of participating in a campaign that knowingly defames and discredits rescue forces, an attorney should rather get busy uncovering actual crimes: The crew of our airborne mission witnessed massive non-assistance by EU institutions at Easter, for instance. This led to at least seven deaths. Unlike for the allegations that Zuccaro invented, reliable evidence for this delict is available.”