A rescue ship named in honour of the Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean and was found washed up on a beach was freed by Italian authorities six months after it docked with 125 people on board.
A court ruled on Friday that the Alan Kurdi, run by a German charity, could travel to Spain for routine maintenance after it was held in the Sardinian port of Olbia for safety and security breaches.
The aid group Sea-Eye claimed that the impounding of the ship was politically motivated to prevent migrants being landed in Italy.
Italian officials said there were too many lifejackets on board, and not enough toilets for the number of people rescued.
“Our flag state, Germany, was saying there was no problem,” a Sea-Eye spokeswoman said.
The Alan Kurdi was stopped from leaving an Italian port twice in 2020, one of a number of boats that were barred from launching new missions.
Thousands of people have landed on Italy's shores and islands and the country often takes a hardline stance when new ships carrying rescued migrants try to dock.
Despite the problems, the charity said the Alan Kurdi saved 361 people during three missions in 2020.
Another court date was set for November 2021 in Italy and it was unclear if the ship would be able to resume missions once the maintenance is completed. The group is preparing to launch a much larger ship shortly.
The Alan Kurdi was named after the boy, 3, whose body was found lying face-down on a sandy beach. His death shocked the world and shed light on the plight of Syrian refugees risking their lives to cross to Europe.
Alan's mother and brother died with him when a people-smuggler's boat capsized off the coast of Turkey in September 2015.