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Mediterranean Spanish aid group fears charges after refusing to hand over rescued migrants to Libyan coastguard

THE head of a Spanish aid group said today he fears human-trafficking charges may be brought against his staff after they refused to hand over a group of rescued migrants to the Libyan coastguard in a tense standoff at sea, instead taking them to Italy.

Proactiva Open Arms founder and director Oscar Camps said Italian authorities seized his group’s boat yesterday in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo. Officers were investigating the rescue group for suspected criminal association and aiding illegal immigration.

Proactiva said the probe stems from its refusal last Thursday to hand over to Libya’s coastguard 218 migrants it had just saved in international waters north of Libya, about 100 miles from Europe.

Mr Camps said that, as the coastguard approached, some migrants panicked, began screaming and jumped from their boat into the sea. The coastguard was “very aggressive” toward the Open Arms crew, Mr Camps said, adding that his group had a legal duty to save the migrants.

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