[…] Tunisia on Thursday called for the release of six of its fishermen detained by Italian authorities under the accusation they were smuggling migrants in their boats. Bouraoui Limam, the Information and Communication Director of Tunisia Foreign Affairs Ministry made the announcement on Thursday as anger over the fishermen’s arrest brewed in their home country.
The boat of the fishermen, who come from Zarzis in southeast Tunisia, was carrying 14 people and heading towards the Italian island of Lampedusa last week when it was stopped.
The fishermen insist that while they were at sea on 30 August, they spotted a boat of migrants close to sinking, 20km away in Italian waters. They came to its resue, helping migrants onboard. However they were later stopped by Italian authorities, and charged with facilitating illegal immigration.
One of the detained fishermen is Chamseddine Bourassine, the president of the Association of Fishermen in Zarzis. His supporters at home have led protests calling for his release.
[…] Five of the migrants were repatriated to Tunisia on Monday, while the others, who are all under the age of 18, remain in a detention center in southern Italy. […]