Italy's Matteo Salvini will stand trial for KIDNAPPING after blocking migrant ship


Italy’s Matteo Salvini will stand trial for KIDNAPPING after blocking a migrant ship from disembarking in a six-day standoff while serving as interior minister

  • Head of right-wing League party, charged with barring migrants from landing
  • Group of 147 people had been rescued at sea by the Spanish NGO Open Arms
  • Salvini could face up to 15 years in prison after his trial, scheduled for September

Italy’s Matteo Salvini will stand trial for kidnapping after blocking a migrant ship from disembarking in a six-day standoff while serving as interior minister. 

Salvini, head of the right-wing League party and interior minister at the time, is charged with barring migrants from landing on the island of Lampedusa after they were rescued at sea by the Spanish NGO Open Arms.

For almost a week, he refused to allow a ship carrying 147 mainly African migrants to land, as conditions worsened on board.

All minors and some suffering health problems were allowed to disembark.

Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League party and interior minister at the time, is charged with barring migrants from landing on the island of Lampedusa after they were rescued at sea by the Spanish NGO Open Arms

Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League party and interior minister at the time, is charged with barring migrants from landing on the island of Lampedusa after they were rescued at sea by the Spanish NGO Open Arms

He faces a similar case over his decision to block around 100 migrants from disembarking from the Italian Gregoretti coastguard boat in July 2019

He faces a similar case over his decision to block around 100 migrants from disembarking from the Italian Gregoretti coastguard boat in July 2019

Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of the accused, delivers a speech during a preliminary hearing today

Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of the accused, delivers a speech during a preliminary hearing today

Typically combative, Salvini tweeted today that ‘defending the country is every citizen’s sacred duty’.

‘That is what I will be judged for, for having defended my country? I will appear with my head held high,’ he said.

Salvini, who was in court today and who risks up to 15 years in prison after his trial, scheduled for September 15, called it ‘more of a political than a judicial decision’.

Open Arms welcomed the ruling, saying on Twitter it was ‘happy for all the people we have saved.’

It is the second such case relating to Salvini’s time as interior minister, when he banned all NGO rescue ships from entering Italian ports.

He faces a similar case over his decision to block around 100 migrants from disembarking from the Italian Gregoretti coastguard boat in July 2019.

His League party takes a hard line on migrants entering Italy, arguing his country bears an unfair burden as the first point of entry into Europe for those crossing on unstable boats from north Africa.

When he blocked the ships, Salvini was part of a coalition government and held the position of interior minister and deputy prime minister.

He has argued that the policy was not his alone, but was agreed by the government as a whole.

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