Italian Senate approves lifting of Salvini’s immunity
Italian Senate approves lifting of Salvini’s immunity
14 February, 2020, 10:10
Far-right leader Matteo Salvini, the head of Italy'sLeague party, who was serving as interior minister at the time, could eventually face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.
The Senate's immunity panel had already given the OK for the Catania court of ministers' request to parliament to proceed against Salvini for allegedly abusing his power and the floor of the Upper House has now ratified the decision to lift Salvini's parliamentary immunity.
The Italian Senate has voted and decided that far-right leader Matteo Salvini should face trial for illegally detaining migrants on a coast guard boat.
The Italian Senate has formally given the go-ahead to a criminal case against Salvini, who is accused of kidnapping when in 2019 he prevented 131 asylum-seekers from leaving the Gregoretti coastguard ship, docked in Italy.
At the time, Salvini was pushing for the closure of ports to migrants.
"I will claim my work as minister, because defending my homeland was not my right, it was my duty", he said.
Salvini said that "Liverpool is a handsome city" and added that he wanted to visit, before inviting Rotheram to visit Milan "to eat osso buco or polenta".
A Catania court accused him of "abuse of power" in blocking them on board from July 27 to July 31 previous year, and of illegally detaining them.
Some migrants in need of urgent medical care were taken from the coastguard vessel but 116 of them remained on board for nearly a week.
Asked if he was anxious about becoming ineligible for office in the event of a conviction, Salvini said "absolutely not".
However, ministers can not be tried in Italy while in office unless their parliamentary immunity is removed. After the Senate vote, he compared his predicament to that of US President Donald Trump, who accuses opponents of impeaching him because of partisan politics and because they lost at the ballot box. "I have full and total faith in the justice system", Salvini told ANSA news agency after the vote. Similar standoffs played out in the Mediterranean Sea during the anti-immigration stance Salvini took as interior minister.
His League party has been losing some support and Salvini now also has to contend with the resurgence of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, which has leapfrogged ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia. Mr Salvini could also be prosecuted over the Open Arms vessel, another migrant ship that was offshore for days last August.
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