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Malta charges three migrant teens in hijacking of boat

By Sam Howard
Malta charges three migrant teens in hijacking of boat
The merchant ship Elhiblu 1 (L), sits moored, after it was hijacked by migrants, at Boiler Warf, Grand Harbor, Senglea, Malta, March 28, 2019. Photo by EPA-EFE/Anne Aquilina

March 30 (UPI) -- Three teenagers were charged Saturday in connection to the hijacking of a migrant vessel in the Mediterranean Sea.

The three individuals, ages 15, 16 and 19, were charged with unlawfully seizing control of a ship -- considered a terrorist activity, the Times of Malta reported. The 15- and 19-year-olds are from Guinea and the 16-year-old is from Ivory Coast, the newspaper reported.

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The teens were among the 108 migrants rescued from a sinking ship by a Turkish merchant vessel, El Hiblu 1. When El Hiblu 1, instead of dropping the migrants off in Europe, headed toward Libya, a group of five people hijacked the boat roughly six miles from Tripoli, officials said.

Rather than allow the vessel to dock in Malta, Maltese soldiers raided the boat Thursday and arrested the alleged hijackers.

The teenagers, all of whom said they were students, face between seven and 30 years in prison, Malta Today reported.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech did not allow the accused hijackers to post bail.

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