- Associated Press - Sunday, June 30, 2019

A lawyer says the captain of a migrant rescue ship intended no harm when she hit an Italian border police motorboat while trying to bring 40 migrants to port in Italy’s southern Lampedusa island without authorization.

The lawyer, Salvatore Tesoriero, told reporters Sunday that Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete “had no intention of hurting anyone” when she steered the ship operated by German nonprofit group Sea-Watch toward the dock and rammed the police patrol boat.

The 31-year-old Rackete is under house arrest. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called her a “criminal” who committed an “act of war” by ignoring orders to keep out of Italy’s waters.

Tesoriero says Rackete only wanted to help “desperate” migrants and get them safely to land. Sea-Watch 3 picked up the 40 migrants off Libya on June 12. The 31-year-old captain spent weeks in a standoff with Italian authorities over whether her passengers would be allowed to disembark.

Before dawn Saturday, Rackete plowed ahead, determined not to let the police motorboat stand in her path. According to Italian news reports, some of the officers on the motorboat jumped onto the dock for safety.

At Italy’s insistence, five fellow European Nations said they would take the 40 migrants from Sea-Watch 3.

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