We demand that the Attorney General, Dr Victoria Buttiġieġ, immediately dismiss the unjust charges against Abdalla, Amara, and Kader, known as the El Hiblu 3.
Abdalla, Amara and Kader arrived in Malta more than four years ago. Acting as mediators and translators on the El Hiblu 1, they helped to prevent the unlawful pushback of over 100 people to Libya and to diffuse a tense situation at sea. They were only 15, 16, and 19 years old respectively. Rather than celebrate their bravery, the Maltese authorities charged them with a number of crimes that could lead to life sentences.
New evidence in the case discredits one of the main witnesses brought by the prosecution: Salah El Hiblu, the owner of the oil tanker that rescued the travellers, is charged in a cocaine smuggling case in Spain. He failed to appear in court to testify. These events cast doubt on his character, his credibility, and thus his testimony.
This new evidence corroborates what the three have explained from the beginning and what critical testimonies from fellow passengers confirm: Abdalla, Amara, and Kader have not committed any crimes! In fact, they diffused a potentially dangerous situation when people were ready to jump overboard rather than be returned to Libya. Indeed, the authorities found no evidence of violence or weapons on board.
National and international support for the Attorney General to drop the charges is overwhelming and growing. Hundreds of individuals and organisations have signed our open letter since we delivered it to the Attorney General in September 2022. In total, the open letter now has 1,300 signatures from individuals and organisations. Signatories include Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca (President Emeritus of Malta), Dr Yana Mintoff (Association for Justice, Equality and Peace), Dr Maria Pisani (Head of Department, Youth Studies, University of Malta), over 10 members of the European Parliament, prominent members from the Catholic Church in Malta, as well as a range of other individuals. The letter has received support from a wide range of organisations in Malta and internationally, including Amnesty International and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).
The Attorney General has not deigned to respond to our open letter, despite having received it over eight months ago. Thus, on Friday, June 9th at 17:30, representatives from Maltese civil society reconvened at the Attorney General’s office at Admiralty House, 53 South Street, Valletta.
Here we called again call on the Attorney General to end the uncertainty that these three young men face. It is high time to drop the charges. Free the El Hiblu 3!
(Photo credit: Miguela Xuereb)