Spanish police have arrested five Moroccan men after a fisherman claimed they forced him to make a dangerous voyage to the Canary Islands.
At first all six men were arrested for illegal entry into Spain when their small fishing boat was intercepted off the island of Lanzarote.
After the men were released, however, the skipper told Red Cross workers that he was being threatened by the other members of the group.
Police in Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, believe that the alleged victim was tricked by his five compatriots into transporting them against his will. They have verified his identity as a fisherman from Tan-Tan, southern Morocco.
In his statement to the police, the fisherman said that some of the men had offered to help him fish, so he went out one day with three of them on board.
One of the men told him that there was a leak at the front of the boat and, when he went to check it, he received a severe blow to the head. He then claims to have been gagged and bound.
The three occupants allegedly seized control of the boat and returned to the Moroccan shore to pick up two more people before heading towards Spain.
The fisherman did not reveal his version of events immediately because the five men had threatened to accuse him of being a trafficker who charged them a thousand euros each for the crossing.
After his confession, the five men were arrested on charges of kidnapping and intimidation.
A police source from the Canary Islands said the fisherman remains stranded in Lanzarote as the Moroccan border is currently closed to all entries from Spain due to the Covid-19 situation.
"We will organise his return as soon as it is possible to do so. The poor man didn't want to come to Europe, and he wishes he was back with his family in Morocco."