Italy Senate gives go-ahead to Salvini migrant trial

  • Italy Senate gives go-ahead to Salvini migrant trial

Italy Senate gives go-ahead to Salvini migrant trial

On January 20, the League voted in the senate's immunity panel in favour of allowing his trial, as a move to win votes before the regional elections were held in Emilia-Romagna and Calabria - in which he in fact lost to the Democratic Party (PD).

The byzantine nature of Italy's legal system means Salvini faces no immediate risk, but the case could prove a distraction as other investigations start to pile up at his door.

Last December, the Italian court of ministers in Catania, Sicily, ruled that Salvini should be tried for allegedly depriving the asylum seekers on board the Gregoretti coast guard ship of their liberty by refusing to allow them to leave.

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

"Clearly there is a message that needs to be calibrated differently (in the cities)", said Salvini, comparing the League's problem to that of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has scored badly in larger urban areas. "I am like Trump? he said".

Then, in the senate, Salvini said: "I want to go to a courtroom with my head held high". "I have chosen against my own go to court and rely on the impartiality of the judiciary", said Salvini.

League Party senators were instructed not to participate and left the chamber before the upper house voted 152-76 to lift his immunity.

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

He also blamed other European Union countries, saying he was waiting for their decision on who would accept the 131 migrants on board the Coast Guard vessel Gregoretti.

This decision was roundly criticised around the world and it was only after the Catholic church and a number of states agreed to care for those aboard the ship, that Mr Salvini eventully agreed to let the ship dock on 31 July.

Salvini - serving as interior minister at the time, in the first cabinet led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte - pledged to stop illegal immigration and curb sea arrivals from northern Africa.

Prosecutors in Sicily opened a probe into conditions aboard the boat, where the scores of migrants shared one toilet. This time, his one-time allies say he acted unilaterally without prior assent.

In less than two years, there were about 25 stand-offs between rescue vessels and Italian authorities as a result of Salvini's policies, but some of these end up under the investigation of prosecutors.

In his 14 months at the interior ministry, Salvini made tackling migrant boats a priority, barring ports to them and threatening charities operating them with fees.