Dear Attorney General Dr Victoria Buttigieg,
On 28 March 2019, the merchant vessel El Hiblu 1 arrived in Malta and three teenagers were arrested and accused of having committed multiple crimes, including acts of terrorism, threatening a crew and hijacking a ship.
Amara, Kader, and Abdalla – aged 15,16, and 19 at the time– were imprisoned for almost eight months before being released on bail in November 2019.
In the days prior to their arrival in Malta, they had helped to defuse a volatile situation at sea.
Together with 105 other people, they were rescued by the crew of an oil tanker, the El Hiblu
1, which attempted to return them to Libya.
When the migrants recognised the Libyan shore, they protested, some saying they would rather throw themselves overboard than return to the country they fled. Amara, Kader and Abdalla intervened and they calmed the situation. They acted as translators and mediators between scared passengers and a scared crew.
Since they were released on bail, Abdalla, Amara, and Kader, known collectively as the El Hiblu3, have had to register at the police station every day and attend monthly hearings in the Maltese law court.
At these hearings, police and military officials, as well as the crew members of the merchant vessel were promptly given the opportunity to testify.
Yet, it took the Maltese prosecution two years to ask any of the rescued witnesses to testify. These critical testimonies have recently confirmed what we knew: Amara, Kader and Abdalla did not commit any crimes!
As the El Hiblu 3 pre-trial hearings come to a close in Malta, the Attorney General must now
decide which charges to bring against the three young men. We thus reiterate our demand
that all charges be dropped and the trial be dismissed immediately.
Instead of being prosecuted, the El Hiblu 3 should be celebrated for their actions in preventing the return of 108 people to Libya.
Resisting illegal push-backs to Libya is not a crime! Stop this injustice! Dismiss the trial in Malta immediately! Free the El Hiblu 3!
927 organisations and individuals endorsed the letter. They are convinced that the imprisonment and prosecution of the El Hiblu 3 constitute a deep injustice.
See the list of signatories in the document below.