Malta: Captain of hijacked ship accuses teenagers of instigating takeover

The three youths, aged 15, 16 and 19 appeared in court on March 30 to face charges of having unlawfully seized control of the ship.

The Captain of the vessel hijacked in March by migrants described to a court here on Wednesday how three teenagers had instigated the ship’s takeover.

Nader El Hiblu, chief officer of the vessel El Hiblu 1, told the court that the three teenagers had acted aggressively when they realized they were being returned to Libya. However, he said, they had not been violent and had allowed the captain to retain control.

The 42-year-old captain told the court that he and his crew had done what they were told “to avoid being hurt” since they “felt outnumbered”.

The ship had rescued over 100 migrants within Libyan waters on March 26 and was forced to turn to Malta as it approached the Libyan coast.

“We sensed something would happen and locked ourselves on the bridge… A group of 20 or 25 got hold of anything they could lay their hands on and began to bang on the glass,” he said.

El Hiblu said one of the accused covered all the cameras on the vessel while another banged on the glass using an iron key. The third translated to English.

The three youths, aged 15, 16 and 19 appeared in court on March 30 to face charges of having unlawfully seized control of the ship.

The case continues.