Relatives of two migrants who died at sea last month have filed a judicial protest against the prime minister, the home affairs minister and the armed forces commander about their failure to rescue them.
Twelve migrants died before the group they formed part of was picked up by a fishing boat. The migrants' boat had allegedly been in Malta's search and rescue region for several days and the fishing boat was directed by the Maltese authorities.
Fthawi Tesfamichael Welday and Asfaha Letenugus Amelesom, brother and sister of two of the deceased migrants called on authorities to pay damages over the death of their relatives, reserving the right to take further action at both local and international level unless their request is met.
The siblings, who live in The Netherlands and Sweden respectively, claimed that the deaths of their brothers came about through failure by the Maltese authorities to honour their obligations under international law to ensure that rescue operations were conducted in a timely and effective manner.
Serious shortcomings in the operations handled by the Maltese Armed Forces had resulted in breaching the migrants’ right to life as well as their right to seek asylum, they said.
The judicial protest, signed by lawyers Paul Borg Olivier and Evelyn Borg Costanzi was filed in the First Hall, Civil Court.
The two relatives also filed an urgent application in the records of the criminal inquiry currently being conducted by Magistrate Joseph Mifsud into the operations carried out by the Armed Forces, stating that they had an interest in the matter.
They also requested the magistrate to hear the testimonies of the surviving migrants.
The applicants urged the magistrate to take all necessary and urgent measures to gather such information which would ensure the proper administration of justice.
Rule of law NGO Repubblika also filed a note in the records of the inquiry, bringing to the attention of Magistrate Mifsud a report that featured earlier on Wednesday on The Guardian showing footage of the operation at sea.
An AFM asset was seen being driven at high speed close to the migrants, thus putting their lives in danger.
Such “irresponsible” action needed to be investigated so as to ensure that the sworn testimonies given during the inquiry were in line with what was revealed by international media today.
The note was signed by lawyers Paul Borg Olivier, Andrew Borg Cardona and Joseph Ellis.
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