In the case of a rescue ship with refugees blocked for days off the coast of Italy, the former interior minister has to contact himself Matteo Salvini answer to court for deprivation of liberty and abuse of office. This was decided by a court in Palermo on Saturday. The trial of the head of the right-wing extremist Lega party, who was also Vice Prime Minister at the time, is due to begin on September 15. If convicted, Salvini faces up to 15 years in prison.
In August 2019, Salvini had the Spanish rescue ship "Open Arms" with 147 migrants on board for six days into the port of Lampedusa refused. According to the operators, the odyssey of the "Open Arms" lasted three weeks.
In an initial reaction, the 48-year-old politician wrote that he was going into the process "with his head held high". The Lega boss rejects the allegations of a criminal offense. This was also emphasized by his lawyer Giulia Bongiorno at the preliminary hearing. Salvini always argued that he was in the interests of Italy and together with the then center-right government Giuseppe Conte traded.
Salvini: The ship could also have called at other ports
The aid organization welcomed the court decision on Saturday.
Another case open
In a similar case, Salvini is also accused of abuse of office and deprivation of liberty because in July 2019 he refused entry to an Italian port for days in July 116 for the Italian coast guard ship "Gregoretti" with XNUMX refugees on board.
In this case, a week ago a public prosecutor called for the proceedings against Salvini to be closed. Salvini was not guilty of deprivation of liberty, did not violate any international conventions and also had the backing of the government at the time, he argued. The decision of a judge in Catania is expected on May 14th.
Salvini's Lega has been an important part of Prime Minister Mario Draghi's broad government alliance since mid-February. The Lega boss himself has not had a cabinet post for a long time.