Lawyer for families of Cutro victims: “The state got it all wrong that night”

(by Elvira Terranova) – “That night, the State got everything wrong it could have done wrong. Everything. And we had seen it right from the beginning. Now, finally, things are starting to be clearer and responsibilities are coming to the surface” . The lawyer Francesco Verri, the lawyer who represents some of the families of the victims of the Cutro massacre of last February 26, told Adnkronos. More than 90 people died in the Steccato di Cutro tragedy, including 35 minors. And some of the bodies have never been found. In recent days, the Crotone prosecutor’s office, led by the prosecutor Giuseppe Capoccia who coordinates the inquiry with the prosecutor Pasquale Festa, has registered six people in the register of suspects, including three financiers.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Crotone has issued a search order against Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Lippolis, commander of the Roan of Vibo Valentia of the Guardia di Finanza; to Antonino Lopresti, from Roan himself, operator on duty the night of the tragedy, and to Colonel Nicolino Vardaro, commander of the Taranto air-naval group. The same provision was notified to three other people whose names, however, have not yet been disclosed. The purpose of the investigation is to ascertain the reasons for the failure to intervene to rescue the migrants and whether the legislation imposing an intervention regardless of individual competences and responsibilities has been respected.

“Now the responsibilities are clearer – explains the lawyer Verre – It is not an easy task and I understand it. It is clear that the prosecutor needs some time to get there, but it seems to me that the situation is clear enough. The certainty is that the State was wrong. Exactly as we have been saying since day one. Period”. And, speaking of the unpublished documents published by Lighthouse Reports, with dozens of testimonies on what happened that evening, to understand what were the gaps in the chain of command, lawyer Verri says: “These documents are even more eloquent, they are evidence even more overwhelming. Because now it is confirmed that as early as nine in the evening Frontex clearly says that there is a boat with possible migrants on board, there was nothing to interpret – he says – we have made our considerations in recent months, saying that at 11pm the Frontex agency reports that there is a boat with the hatches open and in winter you don’t sail on the high seas with the hatches open”.

‘The document of that night comes full circle’

“Less than ever with the stormy sea – explains the lawyer Verri – therefore it was necessary to deduce that there were migrants on board. The financial police draft was also published which that night decodes correctly and says that there was a ship with migrants approaching. Instead, we now know that already two hours earlier, at 21, Frontex had said that there was a possible boat with migrants on board. There is no interpretation to be made. It’s all black and white” . “That document closes the circle – lawyer Verre reiterates – so far they were only reasonable deductions. What is a gulet doing in the middle of the sea, with waves two meters high? It was all too clear that it was carrying migrants. Now we have possession of a document with Frontex which identifies the boat with the migrants on board and reports it to the Italian authorities at nine in the evening”.

In recent days, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has seized the PCs, mobile phones and tablets of officers and non-commissioned officers on duty that night, in Vibo Valentia, Crotone, Taranto to evaluate – as stated in the provision – “the office acts carried out, internal reports, relations between offices relating to the law enforcement operation, the phases prior to the sinking, the chosen operating methods, the phases and moments following the return to port”, but also “reactions, outbursts or more generally comments on the work” .

“If, as the Italian authorities say, that was a law enforcement operation – Verri continues – why weren’t there any forces of order on the beach? If they are violating the law on that boat, why was there no one on the mainland? In what did they trust? That the boat would vanish?…”. And he adds: “The Carabinieri arrived on the beach at 4.37 with their bare hands”.

The family members ‘we are sure there will be a trial, never had any doubts’

But what do the families of the victims expect? “We are certain that there will be a trial, I am sure of it. Then, obviously, there is the presumption of innocence and it also applies to these suspects. I have never had any doubts, I have always thought that the prosecutor did things very well. I know both the prosecutor and the prosecutor Pasquale Festa. Then there are the objective data”. And he concludes: “The picture was already clear and clear from the first minute. We don’t care if it was dude or caio, but we are interested in the truth emerging. And if there were responsibilities and mistakes that night. It cost the life of nearly 100 people”.