Thursday, April 27, 2017

Migrants: A French Volunteer Runs The Risk Of Imprisonment In Italy

The Italian court in Imperia (northwest) is due Thursday to deliver its verdict on Felix Croft, a French volunteer against whom the prosecution has demanded 3 years and 4 months in jail for attempting to drive a Sudanese family in France.

After the prosecution of other militants in France, this case is a first Italian side in the region of Ventimiglia, which has seen thousands of migrants landed in Italy in recent years transit to the north of Europe.

Nico, 28, was arrested on 22 July 2016 on the Italian side with a family of five Sudanese from Darfur - the father, the pregnant mother, two children and an uncle - whom he had met by chance in a center Of Caritas and decided to bring back to France.

Prosecutor Grazia Pradella demanded 3 years and 4 months in prison and 50,000 euros in fines for transporting illegal immigrants, rejecting any "state of necessity".

In the absence, unlike France, of a humanitarian clause for the disinterested aid to migrants, the defense has invoked this point of law which authorizes an offense if it is committed as a last resort to avoid serious damage To people.

"These people could ask to activate the procedures for the right of asylum (in Italy) but they expressed the will to remain clandestine," replied the prosecutor.

"I will never consider doing anything wrong or contrary to the law," said Felix Croft in meeting with AFP a few days before the verdict. Mockingly ironic, he nevertheless expressed concern.

"It makes me a little freak, my spare wheel is punctured!", He explained, relieved only by the assurances of his Italian lawyers that the court would not order his imprisonment after the Verdict, expected in the afternoon.

'Not a symbolic penalty'

Reticent at first to mediate his case, this young man with the goatee observes today with a certain relief that the list of his support lengthens and that "it also begins to move Italian side.

In France, a support group denounced "the enormity of the penalties required", recalling that on the French side, the court of Nice condemned the militant farmer Cedric Herrou to 3,000 euros of suspended fine for having helped dozens of migrants Coming from Italy.

"It is not a symbolic punishment but a prison sentence that the prosecutor has asked for, as for someone we want to withdraw from society," said Felix Croft, denouncing "a political trial".

Born in Nice to a French mother of Italian descent traveling and an American father, the young man grew up in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, passed a CAP of shipbuilding and cabinetmaker and tried twice in vain The nursing competition.

He lives with his needs, his rights to unemployment and various jobs, cashier, construction, interim or lobster fishing in Maine, in the northwest of the United States, where his father now lives.

On the 16th of April, he was in Menton to demonstrate for the sake of the French government, Opening of the borders, which earned him 19 hours of police custody.

In Italy, his trial comes at the moment of a change in mood with regard to aid to migrants, who continue to land by the thousands every week.

If the mayor of Ventimiglia finally canceled a few days ago his decree prohibiting feeding migrants, the prosecutor of Catania (Sicily) has been multiplying for several weeks the threatening statements against NGOs chartering rescue boats at sea.

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