Spanish authorities have arrested 9 migrants on allegations of piracy for threatening the crew of the ship that rescued them off the coast of Morocco.
On the night of Monday 2nd October, the (PSV) VOS PACE encountered two migrant boats at a position around 50 nautical miles northeast of Lanzarote, the easternmost isle of the Canary Islands. The first boat was found around 2330 hours with about 44 people aboard. The second was located shortly after, and had another 35 souls. The majority were men from North African nations, along with a dozen women and children.
All 79 were taken aboard. Since the encounter occured in waters within the Moroccan area of responsibility for rescue at sea, the PSV headed for the port of Tan Tan, Morocco to deliver the survivors.
While under way for Tan Tan, 9 migrants “mutinied” aboard the PSV and ordered the crew to head for Spanish territory in the Canary Islands, where they would have the opportunity to claim asylum on EU soil. The crew changed course for Fuerteventura, and notified Spanish authorities in advance that some of the migrants had become “very aggressive” and drew knives when they learned that they were headed back to Morocco, according to EFE.
Spanish police in riot gear met the ship at the pier and arrested the nine suspects. The men face charges of piracy, which would carry a minimum sentence of ten years in prison if they are convicted.
El remolcador de altura 'Vos Pace' ya se encuentra frente a la costa de #Fuerteventura, donde está previsto que desembarquen los migrantes rescatados la pasada noche
— Televisión Canaria Noticias (@RTVCCanarias) October 3, 2023
Images of VOS PACE are back to March, 2015 awaiting crew change off Malta during her maiden voyage.