German captain of migrant rescue ship wins appeal in Maltese courts

Valletta (dpa) – A ship captain fined 10,000 euros (11,200 dollars) by a Maltese court last year after he brought more than 200 rescued migrants to the country has had his conviction overturned on appeal.

Claus Peter Reisch was on Tuesday found not guilty by the appeals court, which said that the prosecution had failed to prove that Reisch had a criminal intent when he had sailed into Maltese waters in 2018.

Reisch was arrested after the ship he was sailing, the MV Lifeline, brought 234 migrants it had rescued in the central Mediterranean to Malta.

The MV Lifeline is a humanitarian vessel which runs migrant rescue operations in the central Mediterranean.

Maltese authorities had said that the ship was incorrectly registered, noting that the vessel was registered as a pleasure craft in its flag state the Netherlands.

They had charged Reisch with sailing into Maltese waters illegally and impounded the vessel.

In May 2019, a court had found Mr Reisch guilty of registration irregularities and fined him 10,000 euros, with the magistrate ordering that the fine be paid to charities working in the migration sector.

The court had however refused a request to confiscate the ship, saying it did not belong to Reisch.


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