A Spanish judge ordered the release of nine migrants, who were accused of piracy and forcing the ship’s captain, who saved them from drowning, to head to the Canary Islands archipelago on October 3, after the captain confirmed that the migrants were peaceful and that the official story was incorrect.
The official Spanish version of the story indicated that the nine migrants forced the ship’s captain, who rescued them and 70 other migrants, to head to the Canary Islands archipelago, instead of returning to Morocco, according to the “InfoMigrants” website.
A spokesman for the Fuerteventura Court, one of the Spanish Canary Islands, indicated that the judge announced the suspension of the investigation related to the case “due to insufficient evidence,” without further details.
While other judicial sources reported that the decision was based on the captain’s statements, who stressed the peacefulness of the migrants, and clarified that he was not forced to go to the Canary Islands, noting that the migrants threatened to commit suicide if they returned to Morocco.
The nine immigrants, along with 70 others, had set off from the coast of Tarfaya in Morocco, and were rescued by the crew of a Dutch ship from sinking, then transported to the port of Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands.
However, they were arrested upon their arrival on charges of “piracy,” after the authorities reported that they were “crazy” and “aggressive” and that they took out “knives” when they learned that the rescue boat would transport them to the port of Agadir in central Morocco.
It is noteworthy that the “crime of piracy” or “piracy charges” against migrants is not new, as Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto (co-founder of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia party) accused a group of migrants of “piracy” and claimed that they had taken control of a Turkish ship they were on board and that they threatened its crew with knives last June.
However, a subsequent investigation by the Naples Public Prosecutor’s Office contradicted that account, and showed that the migrants hid in a transport truck on the ship, and used a sharp tool to pierce the tarpaulin to breathe air, which was shown by surveillance cameras.
Spain, especially the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, is one of the main entry points for illegal immigrants to Europe.
The Canary Islands witnessed the arrival of 14,976 migrants between January 1 and September 30, an increase of 19.8% compared to the same period in 2022, according to the latest figures issued by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.
Since the beginning of 2023, 140 migrants have died or gone missing during the crossing, according to data from the International Organization for Migration in early September.
The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, which, unlike the International Organization for Migration, relies on emergency contacts with irregular migrants at sea or their relatives, estimates that 778 migrants died or went missing on this migration route in the first half of the year.