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Italy: Minister likens defiant rescued migrants to hijackers

July 11, 2018
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Protesters chains themselves outside the Ministry of Transport in Rome, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Dozens of protesters chained themselves to the steps in a demonstration against the government's hard-line immigration policy. Writing on Italian signs reads "State shipwrecks, right to rescue, drowned rights." (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) — Italy’s interior minister has likened to hijackers some 60 rescued migrants refusing attempts to return them to Libya.

Matteo Salvini told reporters Wednesday that the migrants, who allegedly threatened the crew of a tugboat which rescued them earlier in the week in waters off Libya, were “criminals,” and “not refugees, who hijacked a ship with violence.”

He said they would “end up for some time in jail and then be brought back to their countries.”

The migrants were transferred to an Italian coast guard ship from the tug, which had been in the area assisting an oil rig. The coast guard vessel was heading Wednesday to a Sicilian port.

Salvini, who leads the anti-migrant League party, is determined to stop most rescued migrants from reaching Italy.

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