[Statement] SOS MEDITERRANEE announces lawsuits against perpetrators of the attack on its headquarter in France

After the violent attack on SOS MEDITERRANEE France headquarters in Marseille, the organization announced today that it would file charges against the 22 individuals that stormed its office on Friday 5th of October.

What happened?

On Friday 5 October 2018, at around 2pm, 22 individuals stormed the Marseille office of SOS MEDITERRANEE, screaming at and ambushing the people in their path. Three staff members who were forced from the offices managed to call the police, while four other employees remained trapped inside. Shortly after the forced intrusion, the 22 attackers unfurled a banner and hung it from the office windows, lit flares and filmed the scene. While the police were investigating the building, three staff members were forcefully held inside the office. The 22 attackers were apprehended by the police and placed in police custody while the seven employees, still under shock, went to the police to file a complaint and to the hospital for an examination of the signs of the assault they suffered. Employees traumatized by these events were given time off.

Prosecutions in court against perpetrators and their supporters

The attack of October 5 led to the indictment of the 22 attackers by the magistrate. The charges brought against them are: “violent gathering, unlawful sequestration of property, participation in a group to commit violence, recording and dissemination of violent images”.

SOS MEDITERRANEE France and the seven victims have decided to join the magistrate’s cases as civil parties. A defense team made up of lawyers from the Paris and Marseille Bar is representing SOS MEDITERRANEE France and its employees before the courts. SOS MEDITERRANEE France and its employees will seek compensation for all damage suffered: physical, material, emotional and psychological.

Restoring truth

Until now, SOS MEDITERRANEE has chosen not to respond to the various provocations, intimidation and defamation attempts by extremist groups. The sole purpose of these groups is to divert attention from the real issues: the continuation of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, the failure of States to respond to this humanitarian disaster, the large-scale violations of rights perpetrated in Libya and the urgent need to act to save lives. But, the seriousness of these last acts and the need to set the record straight has led us to initiate these legal proceedings.

Despite attacks: Resume our rescue mission as quickly as possible

SOS MEDITERRANEE has always respected all the laws in force, both on land and at sea. Our mission is simple: to rescue people in distress and to bring them ashore, as stipulated by international maritime law, in a safe and nearby harbor (place of safety). The persecution and criminalization that discredit and hinder our operations must stop: the humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean remains unresolved. It is time that the safeguarding of life takes precedence over any political or ideological considerations. More than ever, citizens are called on to mobilize with us, to defend this fundamental right and to help us resume our life-saving mission as quickly as possible.