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For insight into the course of the hearings see the latest PRESS RELEASE

For comprehensive background, context info and access to pictures and quotes:

Press Infos

WE ARE TAKEN TO COURT – and people on the move are denied the right to life.

On 21.05.2022, 5 years after the most extensive and controversial investigation against a non-governmental rescue organisation in the Mediterranean, the preliminary hearing in the Trapani court was opened. In a series of hearings which are expected to last until the end of 2023, the court will decide whether the charges will be dropped or whether the main trial will begin.

The Case

Most important readings

Trial observation group: Monitoring reports of pre-trial procedures

ECCHR is partnering with other legal human rights organizations – Amnesty International, Giuristi Democratici, Swiss Democratic Lawyers, European Democratic Lawyers and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights – to closely monitor the preliminary hearings in the sea rescue case. Read the reports of the pre-trial procedures in the background section.

Read the report

iuventa trial: the timeline

borderline-europe Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V.

On 21 May 2022, four crew members of the civilian search and rescue vessel Iuventa travelled to the court in Trapani, Sicily, for the first day of the preliminary hearing. In the following months, many other hearings took place. Here you can find the timeline of the trial!

Click here

The Civil Fleet Podcast Episode 36: Defending the Iuventa 4 refugee rescuers

In this episode Francesca Cancellaro, one of the human rights lawyers representing the Iuventa 4 updates us on the pretrial, walks us through some of the many irregularities prolonging it, and explains why the case is so important for the future of activist-led rescue missions.

Listen to the podcast

Rebel Boat

Hacked Phones, Undercover Cops, and Conspiracy Theories: Inside Italy’s Crackdown on Humanitarian Rescue

Read the article

Italy: Criminalisation of human rights defenders engaged in sea-rescue missions must end, says UN expert

GENEVA (9 February 2023) – A UN expert* today condemned the criminalisation and repression of human rights defenders involved in sea-rescue charities in Italy, ahead of the trial of NGO crew members in Sicily.

Read the press release

Ong e migranti: facciamo chiarezza

Comitato per il diritto al soccorso

Da sempre il grido “uomo in mare” ha fatto scattare l’opera di soccorso. Il soccorso da parte di qualunque nave sia in condizioni di farlo. Non c’è nemmeno bisogno che un tal principio sia statuito in trattati e convenzioni internazionali che costituiscono il diritto del mare. Ma ci sono anche gli obblighi che, ratificandoli, hanno assunto gli Stati e l’Italia tra questi, per poter far parte delle “nazioni civili”.

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Processo alle Ong, niente interprete per gli indagati: «Diritti ancora violati»


Avvocati spiati, giornalisti intercettati e ora anche interpreti inadeguati e atti non tradotti. Il più grande processo contro le Ong, a cinque anni dal sequestro della nave Iuventa, rimane ancora fermo al palo. Il tutto per colpa di una falla sistemica, che mette a rischio i diritti fondamentali degli indagati.

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‘It’s a never-ending nightmare’: crew of refugee rescue ship facing jail

Thousands of lives were saved by activists who have now been put on trial in Sicily on trafficking charges

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Klagt Italien diesen Sommer vier deutsche Seenotretter an?

In Sizilien hat eine Gerichtsverhandlung begonnen, die zu einem Prozess gegen die private Seenotrettung werden könnte. Dass die Verhandlung unter Ausschluss der Öffentlichkeit stattfand, ist kein gutes Zeichen.

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Sicily judge to weigh trial of migrant rescue NGOs

Charities running migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean face a pre-trial hearing in Sicily Saturday over alleged collusion with people traffickers after a controversial probe that involved mass wiretapping.

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La solidarietà non è un crimine. A sostegno delle navi Ong

Oggi al Tribunale di Trapani a processo 21 persone, la maggior parte delle quali fanno parte di 3 organizzazioni attive nel soccorso in mare: fra loro l’equipaggio della nave tedesca Iuventa e quelli delle navi utilizzate fino al 2017 da MSF e Save the Children.

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Solidarität wird kriminalisiert

Angeklagt sind 21 Personen wegen angeblicher Schlepperei. Es ist das bisher größte Verfahren, auch Ex-Innenminister Matteo Salvini ist mitverwickelt.

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The Civil Fleet Podcast Episode 24: Twenty years behind bars for saving lives

On May 21, Kathrin Schmidt and three others from the ship are due to appear in an Italian court on charges of facilitating illegal entry into the country. They could all face 20 years behind bars. Listen to her story!

Listen to the podcast

Ong, i volontari di Iuventa alla sbarra: Rischiamo 20 anni di carcere, ma non fermeranno la solidarietà

Alla vigilia del primo grande processo alle organizzazioni umanitarie accusate di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina che si apre sabato a Trapani, grande mobilitazione della flotta umanitaria e della società civile.

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The Civil Fleet Podcast Episode 2: Criminalised for saving lives

In this episode Sascha – a former head of operations on the Iuventa – tells us what it was like working on the ship and how Italy’s far right movement got the intelligence services to spy on their activities and how the cops seized the ship.

Listen to the Podcast

The Crime of Rescue – The Iuventa case

an investigation by Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture

Researchers have analysed exclusive video and photo material, Iuventa logbooks, GPS coordinates and weather data after the seizure of the ship. In this video, they refute the argumentation of Italian police in the Iuventa case: There is no evidence for a collusion of crew and smugglers.

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Salvini’s Spy on the Mediterranean

ZEIT Online (German)

In 2019, the man who first reported Iuventa rescue missions to the Italian police, tells ZEIT ONLINE reporters: “I never witnessed the NGOs collaborating with the traffickers. That was always just a hunch.” First appearence of Pietro Gallo, once seen as main witness against us, in international media.

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The Deadliest Border in the World

The German Times

Report about the day Italian undercover police bugged the Iuventa bridge: “Even at the time, the crew of the Iuventa suspected something wasn’t right, but they followed the orders given to them nonetheless. Only months later would they find out why the MRCC had ordered them to Lampedusa.”

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