Police Denies Syrian Refugees Arrived to Montenegro from Split

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, January 31 – Croatian police on Tuesday denied claims by Syrian emigrants from the Erica, an Italian fishing boat which sailed into Zelenika, Montenegro under Montenegrin border police escort, that they had arrived from Split, Croatia earlier today, as reported by some media.

The boat was not in Split waters and could not have left there, the Croatian Police Directorate told Hina, adding that Croatian police were in contact with Montenegrin police.

The Syrian emigrants aboard the Erica told Montenegrin Television that they boarded a small boat on the Croatian shore, that it capsized on the high seas and that the Erica rescued them.

But Montenegrin authorities do not rule out the possibility that the Erica crew tried to smuggle the Syrian refugees, the Montenegrin website Vijesti said, recalling that the Erica had been caught illegally fishing in Croatia twice.

According to the website’s unofficial information, Montenegrin maritime authorities retraced the Erica’s movements over the past 24 hours. “The fact that the boat was constantly on the move and did not stop indicates that the Erica did not pick up any shipwreck victims, in which case it would have had to stop,” Vijesti said.

Montenegrin maritime authorities were called to assist the Erica, which was 17 miles from the coast, at 7 AM today. They sent several vessels which intercepted the Italian boat, with Montenegrin border police boarding it four miles from the coast.

Seventeen refugees were on board – 11 migrants from Syria, including three children, two migrants from Morocco, two from Yemen, one from Afghanistan and one from Pakistan, Montenegrin police said.

All were given medical attention, food, water and dry clothes, police said, adding that they were taking further action concerning the refugees’ status.


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