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MSF slams Italian prosecutors for ordering to seize Aquarius over toxic waste allegations

ANI | Updated: Nov 20, 2018 17:52 IST

Moscow [Russia], Nov 20 (ANI/Sputnik): Humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) has condemned the decision of Italian prosecutors to seize the Aquarius migrant rescue vessel over accusations of alleged illicit disposal of hazardous on-board waste.
Earlier in the day, media reported that prosecutors from the Italian city of Catania, located in Sicily, had ordered to seize the vessel and identified more than 20 suspects who had been allegedly repeatedly disposing of hazardous waste, which accumulated during the ship's relief activities.
"We strongly condemn the decision by Italian judicial authorities to request the seizure of the Aquarius for alleged anomalies in its disposal of on-board waste. It's a disproportionate & unfounded measure aimed at criminalizing lifesaving medical-humanitarian action at sea," the MSF said via its official Twitter account.
The organization also said in a separate tweet that such allegations hampered relief activities and discouraged ships from carrying out rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
"We are more than ready to clarify the facts and stand accountable for the operational procedures we followed, but we strongly reaffirm the legitimacy and legality of our humanitarian work," Gabriele Eminente, the Director of MSF Italy was quoted as saying on the organization's official website.
The Aquarius, charted by SOS Mediterranee migrant charity and the MSF, is the last migrant rescue vessel operating in the central Mediterranean. The ship is currently docked at France's Marseille and is unable to conduct operations as it has been deprived of the Panamanian flag it had been sailing under. According to the MSF, the organization had either saved or helped more than 80,000 people at sea since 2015. (ANI/Sputnik)