Charity Proactiva Open Arms filed a complaint, including involuntary manslaughter, with the Spanish police against a cargo ship for failing to help migrants adrift on a destroyed dinghy in the Mediterranean.
The captain of the charity’s rescue boat plans to file a separate suit against the Libyan lifeguard.
The migrant rescue boat Open Arms docked in Spain on Saturday carrying the bodies of a woman and a four-year-old boy as well as a woman found alive on the remains of a dinghy off the coast of Libya last week.
The boat took four days to reach the Spanish port Palma after finding the migrants adrift off Libya’s coast after apparently being abandoned by the Libyan coast guard, the charity said.
“We filed a complaint against the captain of the merchant ship Triades for failing to help and for involuntary manslaughter and we’ll do it against the captain of the Libyan patrol,” Oscar Camps, Open Arms captain and founder of the NGO, said.
Open Arms claimed the ship’s crew saw the migrant dingy but failed to provide help. Reuters could not contact the captain of Triades, which flies a Panamanian flag. The ship is currently moored in Misrata, where officials could not be reached for comment.
The Libyan lifeguard left the three migrants amid the shattered remains of the raft after the women and boy refused to board their patrol ship, the charity said.
Libya’s coastguard disputed the account but offered no explanation for how the three migrants came to be stranded on the remains of the dinghy.
The Spanish charity operates in the central Mediterranean, one favoured by people smugglers operating out of Libya.
Charity boats are locked out of Italian ports, the closest European landing point, since Italy’s new government vowed to crack down on illegal immigration from Northern Africa.
Open Arms found itself at the centre of the European immigrant crisis at the start of the month when it rescued 60 migrants off Libya and brought them to Barcelona after being refused docking in Italy and Malta.