It started out as a mission of mercy and nearly ended in tragedy. The Alicante fishing boat Clot de L’Illot rescued 49 would-be immigrants from Somalia in mid-Mediterranean last Wednesday. The problem was that the immigrants thought the boat was taking them to its home port of Santa Pola but it was in fact heading for Tripoli. When the boat docked there the men mutinied, locked themselves in one of the holds and refused to disembark. Fortunately, the ship’s captain, José Russo, had ordered his 13-man crew to hide all the knives on board, telling them: “These people are desperate and capable of anything.” As it was, the Somalis threatened to set the boat on fire and told Russo’s 20-year-old son that if they’d known they were going to be taken to Tripoli they would have killed all the Spaniards. They finally abandoned the boat after Libyan security forces managed to force 14 of them out of the hold. Captain Russo said: “We started out as saviours then had to be saved ourselves.”


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