The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

Lifeline captain case: ‘Most witnesses irrelevant’ - defence

Thursday, 5 July 2018, 14:31 Last update: about 6 months ago

The lawyer defending the captain accused of violating maritime law last week said after today’s sitting that “most of the witnesses in our opinion were irrelevant to the case”.

Cedric Mifsud told the media that the only witness of note was the registrar of ships for Transport Malta, who stated that he had corresponded with the Dutch authorities who told him that the vessel is stateless and therefore it is not validly registered under the Dutch flag.

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Such a statement is “very strange”, said Mifsud, as there was documentation issued by Dutch authorities which shows that the vessel was known and was “in one way or another registered by the Dutch authorities”. 

Although the testimony was made by the registrar, it was simply based on what the Dutch authorities had said and it is “not of much relevance” as the evidence is not “the best” that can be received in criminal proceedings, Mifsud told the media.  He hoped that the prosecution would bring up the Dutch authorities to testify themselves, as the defence had a number of “very interesting questions” to ask them.

Neil Falzon, another legal representative for the captain, said that they are “very concerned” with the recent government decision to close Maltese ports to humanitarian vessels, including the decision yesterday to prohibit a plane owned  by an NGO to leave the island.

Falzon said that recent figures have shown a spike in the deaths at sea, and that this may be linked primarily to the fact that there are no NGO boats out rescuing “people who are fleeing war and persecution”.

The Captain, Claus-Peter Reisch, also made a short comment saying that he hoped that the case was not prolonged too much because even though Malta is a very nice island, he would like to return home for his elderly mother’s birthday in the coming days.

Reisch concluded, saying defiantly that it is “never a crime to save lives”.

Video Alenka Falzon

 

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