Decision of the Court of Cassation, I Criminal Section, No. 3345 of 23 January 2015

Confirming earlier decisions, the Court of Cassation affirmed the competence of Italian courts to prosecute those responsible for smuggling of migrants also in the event that such illicit activity has been realized beyond  territorial sea, and the entry in Italy of irregular migrants is a result of maritime search and rescue (an activity not only legal but also mandatory under the SAR Convention and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea). Moreover, the Court ruled that the decision of the judge on the merits, who had not sentenced the shipmaster for the offense of fraudulent shipwreck, was correct because it had been proved in the proceeding that the shipwreck was not intentional. On other hand, the decision was erroneous insofar the judge had not taken into consideration other circumstances, such the bad condition of the ship and the excessive number of migrants on board, which made that the facts qualified as “wrongful shipwreck” under the penal code.