Exclusive: Transcripts of conversations between Italian officials and Libyan coastguard contained in leaked file. At 8.18am on Friday 16 June 2017, the Libyan coastguard Col Massoud Abdalsamad received a long-distance phone call from an Italian coastguard official who told him that 10 migrant dinghies were in distress, many in Libyan territorial waters. “It’s a day off. It’s a holiday here. But I can try to help,” Abdalsamad told the official. “Perhaps we can be there tomorrow.” Later that day Abdalsamad claimed that his men had saved many of the stricken migrants. According to data compiled by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), by the end of the weekend, 126 people had died. In February of that year, Europe had ceded responsibility for overseeing Mediterranean rescue operations to Libya as part of a deal struck between Italy and Libya aimed at reducing migrant flows across the sea. The conversation, recorded by prosecutors in Sicily investigating sea rescue charities for alleged complicity in people-smuggling, lays bare the indifference of individuals on the Libyan side to the plight of migrants and to international law. It is one of several revelations from the transcripts of wiretaps on Libyan coastguard officials’ phones, contained in a leaked 30,000-page file produced by Italian prosecutors that has been seen by the Guardian.
The revelations are being published as part of a joint investigation by the Guardian, the Italian public broadcaster Rai News and the Domani newspaper. They appear to show that Italian authorities knew that Libyan authorities were either unwilling or incapable of looking after migrant boats at sea, even as Italy launched investigations into the role of nongovernmental organisation boats at sea that prevented NGOs from carrying out private rescue operations. Between 22 and 27 March 2017, hundreds of people who had set off from Sabratha in Libya requested aid from the Italian maritime rescue coordination centre. The transcripts show that Italian officials attempted to contact Abdalsamad and at least two other officials a number of times, but often the “result was negative”. The Italian authorities eventually lost contact with the dinghies. On 29 March the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed the deaths of 146 people, including children and many pregnant women.

via guardian: ‘It’s a day off’: wiretaps show Mediterranean migrants were left to die

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By Perumalism – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link