More than 10 migrants stranded on a ship off southern Italy jumped overboard in a desperate attempt to swim ashore on Tuesday (Aug 20) - after being stuck at sea for 19 days. Now, Spain has ordered a naval vessel to end their suffering. They will be collected and taken to Mallorca. The Open Arms vessel had been in a stand-off with the Italian government over the migrants' fate. They were just off the port of Italy's Lampedusa, with almost 100 people onboard - awaiting permission to bring the mostly African migrants ashore. But Italy has a ban on private rescue ships docking in its ports, and said it had taken on too much responsibility in handling African migration to Europe. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini claims that charity-run ships have become "taxis" for people smugglers. Salvini's political rival, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, had said the Open Arms could take the group to a Spanish port that had offered safe harbor, but crucially only if the rescue ship de-registered and took down its Spanish flag. That would've made it hard for the ship to continue rescue missions, invalidated its insurance and left it at risk of being intercepted by the navy or coast guard force. Earlier on Tuesday, the United Nations refugee agency denounced what they called "political point scoring" which had arisen over the standoff, and said it should be a "simple matter" of getting the group to dry land.
More than 10 migrants stranded on a ship off southern Italy have jumped overboard.... A desperate attempt to swim ashore, said the Spanish charity operating the ship on Tuesday. The rescue boat - called the Open Arms - has been stuck at sea for 19 days. And has been in a stand-off with the Italian government over the migrants' fate. They have been waiting just off the port of Lampedusa, with almost 100 people onboard - Awaiting permission to bring the mostly African migrants ashore. But Italy has a ban on private rescue ships docking in its ports. And says it has taken on too much responsibility in handling African migration to Europe. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini claims that charity-run ships have become "taxis" for people smugglers. The Open Arms has called the situation "out of control". And says some of the migrants are suicidal. Salvini's political rival, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who controls the Coast Guard but not port access, has said they can take the group to a Spanish port that has offered safe harbor. But crucially only if the Open Arms de-registers and takes down its Spanish flag. That would make it hard for the ship to continue rescue missions, invalidating its insurance. And leaving it at risk of being intercepted by the navy or coast guard force. Open Arms has refused this offer. And won't take the migrants to Spain using the rescue ship due to miserable conditions on deck. But they have not ruled out defying Italy's ban and attempting to dock anyway. The United Nations refugee agency has denounced what they call "political point scoring" stemming from the issue. And have said it should now be a "simple matter" of getting the group to dry land.
Eight migrants on board the Open Arms rescue ship needed urgent assistance Monday night and were evacuated from the Spanish vessel to the Italian port of Lampedusa. One other migrant accompanying them also disembarked. It comes after Open Arms said Monday that they understood the Spanish government will allow them to dock and get off the boat in Mallorca, as it is the nearest Spanish port to where they are located. "Now, after 18 days of stagnation, Italy and Spain seem to have reached an agreement, identifying Mallorca as a port of disembarkation," it said in a press release. However, the charity have expressed concern over the time it would take to sail the boat to a Balearic port as they are currently based off the coast of Italy and the journey would significantly exacerbate the already trying conditions on board. The Spanish government denied that any agreement had been made in consultation with Italy in this regard. The stranded migrants, most of whom are African, have been at sea for 18 days, and hoped to disembark on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa instead. However, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini ordered his officials not to let them but he made a partial concession on Saturday by allowing 27 minors to leave the boat, saying he had only agreed to this at the insistence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Meanwhile, migrants have been jumping off the boat and attempting to swim ashore in the latest sign of desperation in the face of Italy’s refusal to allow it to land. Scuffles too have been breaking out on board. "Disputes ... anxiety attacks ... panic ... what else do we need? For people to die?" asked charity found Oscar Camps. "Those who didn't die in the sea need to die here on board Open Arms? Is this what we need? I hope the Italian courts resolve the situation.” Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has taken to social media to mock the Spanish offer, saying it was designed to cast him as a racist. “Those who stick it out are th...
Cardinal George Pell has become the most senior Catholic cleric to be found guilty of child sexual abuse. Pell is a senior official in the Vatican and his guilty verdict comes amid a wider scandal over abuse in the Catholic church worldwide. He was found guilty on five charges of sexual abuse against two 13-year-old choir boys by a jury in Melbourne in December - acts committed more than twenty years ago, when Pell was Archbishop of Melbourne. But the verdict was only made public in Australia on Tuesday (February 26). That's after a strict court suppression order on the trial was lifted when a second abuse case against Pell was dropped by prosecutors. Outside the court, Pell had to be escorted through a crowd of media by police - while another abuse victim yelled at the Cardinal. On Tuesday, the Vatican's spokesperson confirmed that he has been banned from practising as a Cardinal and from being in contact with minors. Pell's lawyers have filed an appeal against the verdict and say he maintains his innocence. Each of the five offences carries a maximum of ten years in jail, meaning after his sentencing on Wednesday (February 27) the 77-year-old cleric could be imprisoned for the rest of his life. Reuters' Sonali Paul has been covering the trial from Melbourne.
Cardinal George Pell, the third most powerful official in the Vatican has been found guilty of child sexual abuse by an Australian court. The verdict was made public Tuesday (February 26) but a jury found Pell guilty on December 11th last year after a four-week trial. He's been convicted of five sexual offences committed two decades ago against two 13 year old choir boys. Pell is the most senior Catholic clergyman worldwide to be convicted for child sex offenses. And the verdict has come as the Catholic Church tried to deal with a growing child sex abuse crisis. Pope Francis ended a conference on sexual abuse on Sunday calling for an "all out battle" against the crime. It follows scandals in the United States, Chile and Germany. Pell has pled not guilty to all five charges. The verdict had been under a strict court suppression order on the trial but that order was lifted and the outcome came to light after a second abuse case against Pell was dropped by prosecutors on Tuesday. Each of the five offences carries a maximum of 10 years in jail. His lawyers have filed an appeal against the verdict on three grounds, if successful that could lead to a re-trial. He's due in court on Wednesday (February 27) for the start of his sentencing hearing.
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