Italian senate paves way for Salvini migrant trial

Matteo Salvini et al. around each other Leader of Italy's far-right League party Matteo Salvini talks to the media in Rome

Mr Salvini, a senator, now looks set for a potentially career-derailing case on charges that could see him serve up to 15 years in jail if convicted.

Magistrates in Sicily want to try Salvini for alleged abuse of office and illegally detaining the migrants, saying he acted independently of the government. "I am proud of it, I would do it again, and I will do it again". This opens the way for criminal prosecution Salvini court of Palermo in connection with its ban in August 2019 on the landing of 80 migrants from a vessel non-governmental organization Open Arms.

The Senate voted 149 to 141 to strip him of his parliamentary immunity in the latest case, paving the way for prosecution.

He insisted the decision to stop migrants from getting off the ship - until a deal was reached with European Union countries to take them in - was reached collectively within the government. His League party was in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star, but now he is an opposition MP.

Stating that he has a "clear conscience", a defiant Salvini said on 30 July: "Defending Italy is not a crime".

In February, the Senate voted to strip him of his parliamentary resistance in a comparable case, including the Italian coastguard boat, Gregoretti.

It's in relation to a case past year when he refused to let a rescue ship carrying scores of migrants dock at the Italian island of Lampedusa. The hearing was postponed three times because of this coronavirus pandemic and is now scheduled to happen in Sicily on October 3.

The case is one of several stemming from Salvini's former closed ports policy against NGO-run migrant rescue ships during his 14-month stint as interior minister.

Thursday's vote was shut.

"If anyone thinks they are going to scare me with a politically-motivated trial, you've got the wrong man", Salvini told the senate just before the vote.

His League party is still the most popular in Italy despite a recent slump in the polls.

A Demopolis poll this week found that the League has dropped over 11 points in a year, from holding 37 percent of voting intentions to 25.4 percent today.



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