Italy's foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi on Friday expressed his country's thanks to Montenegro for agreeing to take in 20 out of the 177 migrants rescued off Lampedusa who were stranded aboard a coastguard ship last month after Italian authorities refused to allow them to come ashore, sparking a diplomatic standoff.
Moaovero said Italy was "grateful to the government of Montenegro for its decision to host several migrants who arrived in Europe on the Diciotti offshore patrol vessel," according to an Italian foreign ministry statement.
"Italy appreciates Montenegro’s concrete and noble act of solidarity and cooperation which is proof of its consistent compliance with the founding values of the European integration process," the statement said.
The offer by Montenegro - an EU candidate country - to host the migrants trapped on the Diociotti for 10 days in August followed talks with foreign minister Srdan Darmanovic, the Italian foreign ministry said.
Sicilian prosecutors are probing Italy's hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini and his chief of staff Matteo Piantedosi for kidnapping in order to coerce, illegal detention, abuse of office and negligence in the Diociotti case in which Salvini refused to allow the migrants to disembark at the port of Catania unless the EU agreed to take most of them.
Salvini ordered the migrants to be allowed off the Diciotti on 25 August after Albania agreed to take 20 and Ireland 25 while the Italian Catholic Church agreed to take the rest and relocate them to parishes across Italy.
European convention on human rights that states that any asylum seeker detained for more than 48 hours should be released and given the opportunity to apply for refugee status.