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Controllo di massa
II Guerra mondiale
28 March 1997/ 28 march 2009
Political Accountability for Extra-Territorial Border Controls: The Case of the Kater y Rades.
from Zobeida ( Australia)
Presentiamo in lingua originale uno stralcio di un'interessantissima ricerca universitaria di una giovanissima australiana, studiosa sui problemi dei flussi migratori e della difesa dei diritti umani. Quello che potrete leggere è la ricostruzione della tragedia che si svolse quella maledetta sera del 28 marzo, una ricostruzione a cui abbiamo personalmente contribuito, con i nostri materiali di archivio e la personale esperienza ma nella quale la passione e l'analisi scientifica di tipo anglosassone ha fatto di questo lavoro , di cui voi potrete leggere solo alcune pagine, degno di essere tradotto e pubblicato in Italia .
Molte grazie, Zobeida per averlo concesso in esclusiva all'Osservatorio sui Balcani di Brindisi e a Pugliantagonista
sui Balcani di Brindisi
thesis examines the changing configuration of the border in the European
Union by examining a maritime incident between an Italian Navy vessel and
an Albanian boat of asylum seekers that occurred in the Canal of Otranto
in 1997. The incident forces consideration of what constitutes
legitimate state action to enforce borders, and how the current
configurations of sovereignty are reasserting a highly territorial
identity for the nation-state, primarily in response to undocumented
migration. The analysis
highlights a key period of change in the enforcement of the border in the
Canal of Otranto, and the development of an Italian discourse that
articulates a rejection of asylum and fear of invasion.
In so doing, I consider how state action at the border is shaped
and given legitimacy by discourses of security and humanitarianism.
By concentrating on the use of border controls that are mobile,
operative extra-territorially and enforced militarily I consider the way
in which limits on sovereign action are being reconfigured not only to
respond to the unauthorised crossing of the border, but to negate the
rights of individuals attempting to cross it.
Kater y Rades left Valona at around 4 P.M. on the 28 March 1997, severely
overloaded and guided by an inexperienced driver.
Twenty-one meters long, the vessel was equipped to carry just nine
people, yet more than one-hundred and forty had ,
weighing down the ships hull one meter in the water.
Women and children were crowded into the cabins below deck,
families were separated, and the men remained on the top deck. The ship was without any kind of life-saving equipment or
even a radio.
first sighting of the ship by Italian authorities was after 5 P.M., as the
Kater, still in Albanian waters, passed the island of Saseno.
An Italian Navy ship, the Zeffiro communicated to the shore that on
the deck of the Albanian vessel there were at least seventy people visible,
but that as there were likely to be more inside the cabins the total
number of passengers was unclear.
The Zeffiro was instructed to begin operations according to the
Rules Of Engagement (ROE), and specifically to engage in the
“harassment” of the Kater.
The Kater did not respond to calls on the radio and the Zeffiro
progressively approached it, warning it to desist from the route towards
Italy, otherwise the crew would be arrested and the passengers returned to
The Kater ignored the warnings.
The Zeffiro continued its operations for around an hour, during
which time the Sibilla, a smaller Italian Navy vessel, was instructed to
leave its zone of patrol and go to the aid of the Zeffiro, specifically
“to support operations of harassment”.
By the time the Sibilla arrived, at around 5:45 P.M., the Kater had
crossed into international waters, and command over the Sibilla was given
directly to the Zeffiro. The
Zeffiro was also advised that operations should now be more decisive, to
“near to the boat almost to touch it”.
This was despite the knowledge that the ship was severely
overloaded, and likely to be guided by an inexperienced driver.
sun began to set at 6:30 P.M., and the conditions of the sea worsened.
The Sibilla zig-zagged around the Kater, repeating that it must
change course. The Navy
vessel was more than four times the size of the Albanian ship, and almost
forty times its weight, and the nearing towards the Kater repeatedly
rocked the overloaded vessel.
The subsequent actions of the Sibilla are not clearly recorded.
An operation to infiltrate a cable to stop the propulsion system of
the Kater was ordered by the Sibilla’s captain, and then cancelled.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) of the Sibilla records two
minute intervals of speeding up and slowing down of the boat.
At 6:56 P.M. the captain of the Sibilla reported that he was
progressing with an “operation of harassment at the limits of security”.
It is now completely dark. At
6:57 P.M. the ships collide.
survivors of the incident reported that the Sibilla had neared extremely
close to the Kater’s right side, as if to overpass or board the Albanian
vessel. As the driver of the Kater sought again to move away from the
Sibilla, the force of the two boats, moving together, is considered to
have pulled the Kater back towards the Sibilla.
Although the Italian captain attempted to stop the Navy vessel and
shift backwards, he was too close. The
Sibilla hit the right hand side of the Kater, towards its bow, pushing the
boat onto its left hand side. The
Kater straightened, but remained directly in the path of the Sibilla, and
was hit a second time, more forcefully on the top part of the ship’s
The ship again fell to its left, this time flipping entirely so
that it was upside down in the water.
The passengers on the ship’s deck were thrown into the water.
Those in the cabins were trapped.
Although the air in the cabins kept the Kater suspended upside down
in the water for a few minutes, the passengers who were trapped below had
no means of breaking through the bottom of the boat.
The ship filled with water and sank to the sea bottom, 850 meters
below the surface.
Only 34 people survived the incident, and the majority of the 108
people killed were women and young children.
viewed as refugees under the Refugee Convention definition, seeking
temporary shelter or merely attempting to migrate, international law
recognizes the right of individuals to leave their own country.
Did the Italian nation-state have the right to prevent this action
through the application of force? Is the control of immigration a
sufficient basis for border controls which risk the lives of individuals?
The position of the Albanian asylum seekers illustrates the
contradiction between the recognition of universal human rights and
states’ claims to control the membership and access to those rights.
However, I will argue that this incident demonstrates the inability
of both international and domestic law to protect individuals from the
extra-territorial actions of the sovereign state.
It therefore underlines the gaps in accountability in the use of
mobile, militarised border controls.
Tribunale di Brindisi, Sez. Prima Penale, Sentenza no. 338/05
(Hereafter cited as ‘Tribunal
term “Kater” will be used for the remainder of the paper to
delineate the Albanian vessel.
La Repubblica, 30
March 1997, “‘Una strage volute di donne e bambini’: La
drammatica denuncia dei sopravvissuti, ” p. 2.
Tribunal Judgment, p.
Tribunal Judgment, p.
Tribunal Judgment, p.
Tribunal Judgment, p.
[It] Tribunal Judgment,
pp. 7, 44.
Tribunal Judgment, p. 42.
Tribunal Judgment, pp. 1 - 2.
[It] Tribunal Judgment, p.
Tribunal Judgment, p. 68.
Tribunal Judgment, p. 73.
Tribunal Judgment, p. 74.
Tribunal Judgment, p. 4.
The numbers of dead and dispersed from the incident are often
incorrectly cited in both press commentary on the incident and
academic publications. In particular, it is often recorded that the number of
confirmed dead from the incident rests at 52.
In fact, this was the number of corpses recovered from the
wreckage of the boat at the bottom of the sea bed.
The 34 survivors of the incident maintained, from when first
led to shore, that there were 108 people unaccounted for following the
incident. See Corriere
della Sera, 19 January, 2000, “Scongiurai mio figlio – non
devi partire,” p. 8.
to be continued>>
1)Brindisi 12 anni di lotte al fianco dei migranti
2)Brindisi, 8 marzo 1991, ventimila albanesi
3)IIl Comitato di solidarietà italo-albanese di Brindisil
4) 28/3/97 la strage del canale d'Otranto
5)le iniziative per ricordare i morti della Kater
6)Kater: i fatti raccontati dai superstiti
7) Il processo ai responsabili della strage della Kater
8) la Pivetti disse ributtateli a mare!
9) The case of the Kater I Rades
10) La mostra sull'affondamento della Kater
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