Darius Beigui he is incredulous. For the third time in three months he flew from Germany to Trapani to be able to defend himself in the trial in which he risks twenty years in prison for criminal association aimed at aiding illegal immigration and for the third time he failed. He speaks German and doesn’t know Italian and, incredible as it may seem, in Trapani neither the police nor the Public Prosecutor’s Office are able to bring an interpreter into the courtroom. It’s ridiculous – he snaps – The same prosecutor’s office that successfully coordinated with five different police agencies, including anti-mafia units and intelligence services, to stop a rescue ship, has repeatedly failed to guarantee the fundamental right to a fair trial. I feel like they don’t even want to know what I have to say.”
Darius is one of the members of the crew of very young Germans who in the summer of 2016, on board the ship Iuventa of the NGO Jugend Rettet, rescued 2000 people. Rescues carried out thanks to appointments with the smugglers, is the thesis of the Trapani prosecutor’s office which – after a very long investigation also supported by the evidence of a police infiltrator on board another humanitarian ship operating in the same stretch of sea and complete with intercepted journalists – decided to ask for the trial of twenty-one people, members of the crews and volunteers of three NGOs, Jugend Rettet, Save the children and MSF. A story that has also become a film made by the director Michael Five.
The Iuventa, now reduced to a pile of wreckage, has been seized for five years at the port of Trapani, the process is the other side of the coin of what sees Palermo accused Matthew Salvini, the only one of many open investigations into the work of humanitarian ships to have landed before a judge, the defendants and the NGOs (at a time like this where the civilian relief fleet in the Mediterranean is once again in the crosshairs of middle-aged governments Europe) are eager to defend themselves and affirm the principle of the duty of saving human lives above all. But in Trapani it is not possible to have a trial guaranteeing the rights of the defendants, and the court has decided to admit international observers to the courtroom (the procedure in the preliminary hearing phase is behind closed doors). “It’s the first time – says the lawyer Francesca Cancellaro – that a court in Italy allows for the presence of international observers at a preliminary hearing giving civil society the opportunity to be directly informed of what is happening in the courtroom.”
Surreal what happened in the Trapani court on Friday when, for the third time, an attempt was made to question Darius Begui. The prosecutor brought to the courtroom as an interpreter a retired police officer, whose name is not on the official list. After thirty minutes, the interrogation was stopped and the defense refused to sign the report. ” We are amazed by what happened – says the lawyer Nicholas Canestrini – the interrogation report did not at all respect the statements that my client had made, so we asked to correct it but the prosecutor denied. Therefore we have no other way left than to refuse the signature”. The German NGO claims the right to defence: “Targeting NGOs serves to justify today’s shameful political decisions and to unleash once again an attack that criminalizes people on the move and those in solidarity with them”.