Illegal immigrants arriving from along the Balkan route were being assisted by a self-purported volunteer aide association which is now under investigation as part of a large-scale crack-down in Italy.
The Trieste prosecutor’s office has initiated proceedings against the alleged volunteer association for aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The Trieste-based Linea d’Ombra Association was founded in 2019, with the purported aim of raising funds to help support migrants primarily along the Balkan route and wherever else it is needed.
Investigators searched the association leaders’ home, which also functions as the organisation’s headquarters. The association’s financial records and members’ phones were seized.
The association drew the attention of the authorities during the course of a large-scale police operation. Some thirty people are involved in the public prosecutor’s office investigation to counter an alleged people smuggling criminal ring whose main focus, according to the official statement, was smuggling illegal immigrants from the Balkan route into Italy for profit.
84-year old Gian Andrea Franchi, Linea d’Ombra‘s deputy chairman, told the Redattore Sociale that the association was not involved in people smuggling, but rather provides support for migrants already in the Balkans and in Italy exclusively. He is being prosecuted for facilitating illegal immigration for unlawful gains.