Stowaways that ‘hijacked’ Turkish cargo ship were actually asylum seekers

The group, made up of people from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq had boarded the ship, named Galata Seaway, which set up off from Topcular in Turkey on June 7.

According to the Italian government, the stowaways were discovered by the crew and allegedly tried to take some of them hostage inside the bridge using knives.

Italy’s defence minister, Guido Crosetto, later claimed that the captain of the ship had radioed for help, and sent an urgent request to Ankara who reported the incident to Italian authorities.

Following the report, the Italian authorities dispatched three military ships, two attack helicopters and dozens of special forces units to overpower the alleged group of “pirates”.

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When it was established that the alleged hijackers were malnourished asylum seekers, an investigation was launched by prosecutors in Naples.

After questioning the asylum seekers and crew members, they concluded that the refugees did not represent a threat and refused to charge them with an attempted hijacking.

Sources claimed the captain of the cargo ship had never said there was a risk of hijacking when he sent his request for help.

Furthermore, Mr Crosetto was accused of exaggerating the incident. He had described the stowaways as “hijackers” and alleged they had been armed with “weapons like daggers”.

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Mr Crosetto said the Italian forces had intervened according to standard protocol.

Three of the men were charged with possession of knives which they had allegedly used to cut the tarpaulin inside a truck they had been hiding in.

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