The commander of the Cordula Jacob tanker, allegedly a Croatian captain, is under investigation by the prosecution in Rome for failing to assist the shipwrecked. About 117 people eventually drowned, including ten women, one of whom was pregnant, and two children, including one infant, reports 24sata.hr on February 10, 2019.
According to Slobodna Dalmacija, the investigation was initially launched against the Italian Coast Guard, but after obtaining documents and listening to radio messages, it was redirected towards the Croatian seaman whose name is not known to the public.
On 18 January, the ship was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, not far from the Libyan coast, about 42 miles north of Garabulli. The surviving three migrants – one from the Gambia and two from Ghana – claim that there were 120 people on a dinghy, that the smugglers had set them to sail without life jackets, that the dinghy lost air while on the sea, that the shipwrecked people fell one by one into the cold sea and soon drowned.
During the rescue operation, the closest merchant vessel Cordula Jacob was alarmed. According to the Italian military authorities, at the time it was 36.5 miles from the dinghy, about two hours of sailing, and could, by the same estimates, reach the shipwreck before the helicopter and possibly save more people.
It is not known why the commander hesitated and what he was told and asked to do by either Libyan or Italian naval authorities. Since Libya has established control over its maritime zone, merchant ships hesitate to come to aid because they can lose far more time than is necessary for receiving and transferring the shipwrecked, and shipowners do not measure time with a chronometer but instead with money.
The Italian naval authorities have allegedly managed to convince the commander of Cordula Jacob to change course and go towards the shipwreck only after threatening him to never again be able to sail into an Italian or Libyan port, according to La Repubblica.
Translated from 24sata.hr.
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