Former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is due to appear in court on September 15 to stop the boat passengers. In the summer of 2019, a ship carrying 147 migrants was prevented from reaching the port of Lampedusa. Salvini faces fifteen years in prison for this.
A judge in the Sicilian city of Palermo gave the prosecutor’s office the green light during a preliminary hearing on the trial of former minister Salvini on charges of taking several hostages. Salvini refused to allow the rescue ship Open Arms with 147 migrants on board to enter the port of Lampedusa in August 2019.
The immigrants, including 32 minors, spent a total of nineteen days on the high seas, until a judge decided that the minister was wrong. Salvini was forced to allow the ship to enter the island’s port.
Salvini’s lawyer insisted during the defense that the former minister had not acted alone, and that the blockade was implementing the policy of the then Prime Minister Conte’s government.
The same arguments led to a dismissal in a similar case. In July 2019, Minister Salvini also refused entry to the naval ship Gregoretti to the port of Catania, the second largest city in Sicily. There were 131 migrants on board. Earlier this month, a judge in that city decided not to prosecute.
In Palermo, Salvini faces up to fifteen years in prison. On his social media, the former minister cited Article 52 of the Italian constitution after the trial. He writes: “Defending the homeland is a sacred duty of every citizen.” Am I being prosecuted for that, to defend my country? Go with my head held up with your name, too. Italy first. Always.”
Matteo Salvini’s trial will begin in Palermo on September 15th.
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