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NNA – Dozens of migrants were permitted to disembark from an Italian coast guard ship in Sicily late Thursday, after they were held at the port over suspicions that some had been involved in a reported mutiny.
Police and coastguards escorted some of the migrants off the “Diciotti”, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, while Italian media showed them boarding black busses waiting for them on the quay.
The 67 migrants — including three women and six children — were earlier held at the port in Trapani as a row brewed over reports that a handful of the group revolted after they were rescued, amid fears that they would be returned to Libya.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said earlier Thursday night that they would be allowed off the boat once identification procedures had been achieved “in particular for those who may have committed a crime”.
Initially picked up by a supply vessel the “Vos Thalassa” over the weekend, the migrants were subsequently transferred to a coast guard ship after staff made emergency calls to authorities in Rome.
According to Italian media, sailors aboard the Vos Thalassa locked themselves in the control room and called for help after two migrants with mobile phones and GPS realised that the boat was heading south back towards Libya, sparking a furious reaction from some on board.
Migrants trying to reach Europe are desperate not to be returned to Libya where they face abuse and rape in detention centres.
The incident comes as tensions over migration rise in Europe, with 28 EU interior ministers meeting Thursday in the Austrian city of Innsbruck for a summit focused on finding a common migration plan.–AFP