Italian fishermen released in exchange for relations with Haftar
Italian Foreign Minister puts to rest the rumor that Italian fishermen were exchanged for criminals
In a press release, Italian minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio affirmed that the release of the 18 Italian fishermen held in Benghazi by Haftar forces came in the exchange for the reestablishment of relations with field marshal Khalifa Haftar.
The Minister emphasised that while Italy continues to recognize the Government of National Accord as the legitimate governing body of Libya, Rome will maintain a dialogue with Hafter and his forces in the east.
“We have always talked to Haftar, and last year we met with him nine times. But our relationship was cut off for three months after LNA forces detained the fishermen on charges of infiltrating Libyan territorial waters in September.”
The 18 fishermen were held in Benghazi for over three months by Haftar forces on alleged charges of entering Libyan waters illegally, a charge the fishermen’s families strongly denied.
It was rumoured that the Italian natives were released in exchange for four Libyans held in Italy on charges of human trafficking but Minister Luigi definitively denied the claims and called the request to release convicted criminal impossible and against Italian laws.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte accompanied the Minister of Foreign Affairs in a quick visit to Benghazi earlier this week for the release of the fishermen as well as meeting with Haftar in Al-Rajma.
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