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Calls Mount to Dismiss Charges Against the El Hiblu 3: Justice Hangs in the Balance

Growing international support demands an end to the ordeal faced by Abdalla, Amara, and Kader.

Dr Yan Mintoff speaking during the event in Valletta on the 9th June 2023. Photo FB, Moviment Graffitti

Pressure is intensifying on the Maltese Attorney General, Dr Victoria Buttiġieġ, as calls pour in to dismiss the charges against Abdalla, Amara, and Kader, affectionately known as the El Hiblu 3.

These three young individuals, hailed as heroes for their actions aboard the El Hiblu 1, are facing a potential life sentence instead of the recognition they deserve.

The trio played pivotal roles as mediators and translators four years ago during a critical incident at sea during which many lives were at stake.

Their courageous intervention prevented the unlawful pushback of over 100 people to Libya and diffused a potentially dangerous situation. What makes their ordeal all the more bewildering is that they were just 15, 16, and 19 years old at the time.

Instead of being celebrated for their bravery, the Maltese authorities charged them with multiple crimes that carry severe penalties. However, a recent turn of events has cast serious doubt on the credibility of one of the key witnesses brought forward by the prosecution.

Salah El Hiblu, the owner of the oil tanker involved in the rescue operation, is himself embroiled in a cocaine smuggling case in Spain and failed to appear in court to testify. This startling revelation calls into question his character and the reliability of his testimony.

The emergence of this new evidence only strengthens the assertions made by Abdalla, Amara, and Kader from the very beginning. Fellow passengers have also stepped forward, providing critical testimonies that align with the trio's account of events.

It is now abundantly clear that the El Hiblu 3 committed no crimes and, in fact, diffused a potentially perilous situation where desperate individuals were prepared to risk their lives to avoid being returned to Libya.

The demand for justice has gained remarkable traction, both within Malta and on the international stage. An open letter, delivered to the Attorney General's office in September 2022, has garnered over 1,300 signatures from individuals and organizations.

Notable figures, including Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the esteemed President Emeritus of Malta, Dr Yana Mintoff from the Association for Justice, Equality and Peace, and Dr Maria Pisani, Head of Department of Youth Studies at the University of Malta, have thrown their weight behind the cause.

The letter has also received endorsements from over ten members of the European Parliament, prominent members of the Catholic Church in Malta, as well as renowned organizations like Amnesty International and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

Despite the overwhelming support and the passage of eight months since the open letter was delivered, the Attorney General has chosen not to respond, leaving the El Hiblu 3 in a state of uncertainty.

Frustration among civil society has reached a boiling point, prompting representatives to reconvene at the Attorney General's office on Friday, June 9th. Their aim was to draw attention once again to the urgent need for a resolution and to demand an end to the protracted legal ordeal faced by Abdalla, Amara, and Kader.

The case of the El Hiblu 3 serves as a stark reminder of the critical importance of a fair and just legal system. The evidence discrediting the prosecution's key witness, coupled with the absence of any incriminating evidence against the three individuals, underscores the necessity of swift action.

The international community is watching closely as Malta stands at a crossroads, where justice and the reputation of its legal system.

Disclaimer: The PR was summarized with the help of AI

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