Italy has been urged to release six Tunisian fishermen who were arrested at sea on suspicion of smuggling migrants. Supporters of the fishermen, from the south-east coastal town of Zarzis, say their colleagues were simply aiding a boat in distress. The boat, carrying 14 people, was trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa last week. One of the arrested fishermen is Chamseddine Bourassine, president of the Association of Fishermen in Zarzis.
People said the fishermen should not be in prison, they "should be honoured" for preventing the deaths of 14 people. The Italian coastguard doubts the story given, saying it has no record of an SOS call being made to the Italian coastguard either by the fishermen or the migrants. The men now stand accused of aiding illegal migrants and could face a 15-year sentence if convicted.
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