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Thousands donate to aid ship captain facing prison for rescuing migrants at sea

Thousands have worked to raise awareness for Carola Rockete [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 June, 2019

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Over $340,000 in donations has been raised for the legal fund of a German ship captain facing up to 10 years in jail for rescuing migrants.
Thousands of people have donated money to cover the legal costs of a German woman arrested after the humanitarian rescue ship she captained docked in Italy in defiance of the country's anti-migrant interior minister.

German television celebrities had appealed to the public to financially support Carola Rackete, soliciting more than 300,000 euros ($341,400) by early Sunday.

Rackete was arrested early Saturday after her ship, the Sea-Watch 3 with 40 rescued migrants on board, rammed an Italian border police motorboat that was blocking Sea-Watch 3's path to the dock in Lampedusa.

Italy's far-right anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, had refused to let the migrants disembark on Lampedusa until other European Union nations agreed to take the asylum seekers in.

After 17 days at sea, the asylum seekers hugged the crew and kissed the dock upon arrival as Rackete docked the rescue vessel in Lampedusa's dock before dawn Saturday, knocking a much smaller motorboat from the border protection force on the way.

The captain docked without having been given disembarkation permission, despite the fact that five countries offered on Friday to take the asylum seekers in. 

No one was injured but the motorboat's side was damaged. If convicted, the 31-year-old risks up to 10 years in prison.

She also risks a fine as high as 50,000 euros ($58,000) under a law cracking down on private rescue vessels.

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