Salvini to be allowed to face trial on refugee treatment

14 Février, 2020, 10:10 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Rome as Italian senators are to decide whether he should face trial on charges of illegally detaining migrants at sea last year

Italy's senate on Wednesday voted to lift parliamentary immunity to former interior minister Matteo Salvini, who faces charges of abuse of power for illegally detaining migrants at sea past year.

He was interior minister at the time, and had ordered the closure of all Italian ports to migrant rescue ships.

Under Italian law, former ministers can't be tried for actions undertaken while in office unless parliament authorizes it.

On Wednesday, a majority of senators voted for the trial of the anti-immigration League leader to go ahead.

The case regards Salvini's decision to not allow more than 100 rescued migrants to disembark from the Gregoretti Coast Guard ship for several days during a long standoff in July.

Salvini stressed the decision had the backing of the government and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The probe on Salvini was opened by prosecutors in Catania.

On July 25, 2019, the Italian Coast Gaurd ship picked up 140 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.

While the Gregoretti allowed several people off the ship for medical attention, some 116 people remained on board for days while Mr Salvini demanded other European Union countries take them in.

The interior minister can limit or forbid entry into or transit through Italy's waters on public security grounds - except in cases involving military vessels or ships in non-commercial governmental service like coast guard boats.

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Salvini's opposition allies voted against, while his own League party boycotted the vote.

"Ready to intervene in the Senate with head held high and the clear conscience of someone who has defended his land and his people", Salvini said via Twitter. "Clearly the request for me to be tried will pass".

Senators voted to indict the leader of right-wing party League on Wednesday. "And I'll do it again as soon as I get back into government", he said.

As interior minister, Mr Salvini launched a crackdown on unauthorised migration, blaming migrants for crime and other problems.

Salvini said that "Liverpool is a lovely city" and added that he wanted to visit, before inviting Rotheram to visit Milan "to eat osso buco or polenta".

An Italian Naval officer saltes as the body of a person who died after a fishing boat carrying migrants capsized off the Libyan coast, is brought ashore along with 23 others retreived by the Italian Coast Guard vessel Bruno Gregoretti at Boiler Wharf, Senglea in Malta on April 20, 2015.

The case dates back to an incident last July when 131 migrants were prevented from disembarking in an Italian port for nearly a week.

Then, the Lega-M5S government agreed it was a joint decision and the Senate subsequently blocked Salvini from facing trial.

Salvini, whose party recently lost a key regional election in Emilia Romagna, faces yet another hurdle on February 27.

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