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Italy probes alleged threats by migrants against rescuers

Protesters look as Italy's Diciotti coast guard vessel carrying 67 asylum seekers arrives in Trapani. Photo: AFP

Protesters look as Italy's Diciotti coast guard vessel carrying 67 asylum seekers arrives in Trapani. Photo: AFP

Updated

An Italian coast guard ship has docked in Sicily but is still awaiting permission to disembark its 67 migrants after two of them were accused of threatening their rescuers if they were taken back to Libya.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini said he will not let the migrants off until there is clarity over what happened after an Italian commercial tugboat rescued them over the weekend.

Italy's transport minister said some migrants made death threats against the crew.

The threats prompted the Italian coast guard to board the migrants and bring them to Trapani.

Mr Salvini said he wanted to know if the crew "exaggerated" in reporting the threats.

Speaking in Austria after a meeting of EU interior ministers about migration, Mr Salvini said: "If someone lied, they'll pay. If there was violence, it will be punished."

Mr Salvini said he hoped Italy's hardline position on migration becomes the European position, for the sake of the bloc's integrity.

He said "if you drastically reduce the departures and arrivals, the problems inside the EU among individual countries will also be reduced".

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