An Italian coast guard ship is in the waters off Sicily awaiting permission to disembark its 67 migrants, some of whom are accused of mutiny and threatening their rescuers if they were taken back to Libya.
Interior minister Matteo Salvini has vowed to identify, jail and prosecute the “criminals” rescued over the weekend by a commercial tugboat off Libya.
Transport minister Danilo Toninelli has said a few of the migrants made death threats against the tug’s crew, apparently fearing they would be returned to Libyan detention centres.
The tug alerted Italian authorities to the threats, and the migrants were transferred to the coast guard ship Diciotti, which remained off the coast of Trapani on Thursday.
On Trapani’s docks, activists were protesting against Italy’s hardline position on migrants.
Many wore the red T-shirts that have become a symbol of those favouring a broader welcome for migrants, many of whom dress their children in red to make them easier to spot in cases of shipwreck.