After a seven-year odyssey, the longest, most expensive and most extensive criminal proceedings against sea rescue organizations falls. April 19, 2024: after two years of preliminary proceedings with over 40 hearings, the judge came to the conclusion that, “the facts do not constitute a crime.”

In other words: everyone did what they were supposed to do: the IMRCC coordinated, IUVENTA rescued, VOS HESTIA and VOS PRUDENCE brought people to an Italian POS. Finito la Musica!

The authorities’ attempt to interject “crimes” between the individual steps of our rescue operations, or even to presuppose a cross-organisational “conspiracy to commit criminal acts,” failed.

Thanks to our exceptional legal team, we were able to meticulously reconstruct the events, leaving no room for speculation or spurious allegations. Conversely, the prosecutor’s effort to build the case on flawed, if not manipulated, investigation files and completely unreliable witnesses failed.

What remains, after such a trial? Above all, the rage and sorrow surrounding the seizure of the IUVENTA. This was not only a paradigm shift that led to an even tougher crackdown on civilian sea rescue. It had dire and deadly consequences for the thousands of people on the move whose right to be rescued and access to a safe port were denied. We refuse to forgive or forget! 

Indeed, the extensive investigation, which far exceeds the limits of reasonableness, if not legality, is now cast in a damning light. But it has been of great service to Fortress Europe for years. For almost all the protagonists of this operation, there are no consequences, only lucrative positions. This lack of accountability is unacceptable and falls far short of justice.

Yes! We are truly relieved by the outcome and the conclusion of the trial! The decision allows us to redirect our efforts towards addressing pressing issues!

We were deeply touched by the numerous heartfelt messages and expressions of solidarity that we received in recent days. Our sincere gratitude goes out to everyone who stood by our side!
 We are grateful that the dedication, passion, and immense effort of our wonderful comrades, who stood with us defendants throughout the trial, have borne some positive and hopefully beneficial results. Their contributions have been invaluable, and we appreciate their unwavering support. In addition to the huge amount of care work that is too often invisible and yet so fundamentally important, their knowledge and expertise have helped us to do things right.

But! We continue to share with all of you the rage and sorrow about the conditions and realities along the European borders! The trial against Homayoun Sabetara in Thessaloniki served as a stark reminder of these harsh truths, coming just three days after our own acquittal. Every time you look beyond your own (operational) horizons, the chilling reality of EUropean neo-fascism hits you. The authoritarian shaping of society, fueled by violence at the borders, continues to advance. It’s hardly possible to celebrate these days anyway. Because the universal application of human rights for all, the inalienable right of every person to have rights – which unites us in our fights and forms the core of our sea rescue mission – is being shattered and bulldozed to an unbearable extent – from Gaza to Sudan to Rojava.

But Yes! And perhaps especially in such gruesome times of further and further shrinking spaces for solidarity – winning a little space can not only bring some hope, but also be sand in the gears. We therefore gladly join the line-up of legal successes of recent times – from Brindisi to Catania – with the conviction that we will not be the last, that we can build on the successes of others, that we can learn from each other, that we will not be intimidated despite the machinery of repression and that we can fight back!


It is still too early for an adequate analysis of our trial. The reasoning for the verdict is still pending and the prosecutor could still appeal. However, a few points can already be made:

The story of the IUVENTA is the story of a moment in the political history of the border. And from a legal perspective, the ‘Trapani file’ is an important historical document for reconstructing the change in Italian migration policy that took place between 2016 and 2017, the effects of which continue to this day.

Along the history of IUVENTA, it is also possible to trace the years-long campaign of denunciation against the civil fleet and other solidarity networks with people on the move. It can be revealed that this campaign was fed by the investigating authorities and anti-mafia-prosecutors themselves, who wanted to show off their success story in the fight against “cross-border crime” by any means necessary. It can be shown how politicians of all shades shamelessly exploited this opportunity by fueling racist propaganda and seeing people risking and losing their lives at sea as necessary bargaining chips for their votes. And the sensationalist media also played its necessary part by hunting for spectacular images and supposed “true-crime stories,” which were worth more to them than serious reporting, fact-checking and true-life-stories.

And the story of IUVENTA provides a concrete illustration of the concerted efforts by European state authorities to criminalize migration at large. One of the biggest challenges for us as defendants was to keep up with this! We were proficient at utilizing the class and cultural capital  within our group. But we were often not adept enough at resisting the “bleeding heart” sentiments and “white savior” narratives routinely deployed by the mainstream media. The argument that “we saved lives” was scripted into our case and overshadowed the issue that had driven us to take action in the first place: supporting the political power and agency of people on the move – not to become complicit in negating it.

But we have all learned something and things are moving in the right direction! Thanks to the tireless work of groups like borderline-europe and Porco Rosso, Maldusa, Human Rights Legal Project, Legal Centre Lesvos and some others, who have built an incredibly valuable common ground over the past years! With their help, knowledge and expertise we have often been able to surpass the arguments that were deemed to be most palatable to the court and the public, and therefore most likely to lead to our acquittal. Their supportive and critical discussions always reminded us to never lose sight of the fact that many people on the move face conviction on the same charges.

Therefore, IUVENTA’s story sheds light on the systemic challenges and injustices faced by migrating people and those who facilitate their movement. It underlines the need to abolish the European “Facilitators Package” and the national legislation for its implementation, which enable and promote the criminalisation of solidarity among and towards people on the move.

What does it take to move on in this direction? How to prevent the history of IUVENTA from repeating itself? How can we use the “win” in the IUVENTA trial to win (back) more spaces? What have we learned from the trial? What have “the others” learned from it? How do we “manage” and use the history of IUVENTA? …and what do we do with the IUVENTA ship – this rusty and demolished beauty?

As you can see, we have more questions than answers … the task of the coming weeks and months will be to explore this. Since we can’t answer this alone, we invite you to share your ideas, thoughts and analysis, your memories, and experiences with us.


Solidarity And Resistance!

iuventa crew