Italian politician to court for stopping ship with refugees

Italian politician Matteo Salvini is in court in the southern Italian city of Palermo for stopping a ship with 147 refugees on board. He is suspected of kidnapping because he allegedly held the onboard illegally.

Salvini served as Home Secretary at the time of the 2019 incident. Now he is an MP on behalf of the Lega right-wing party. The Senate has adopted a special motion to criminalize Salvini. As a politician, he could not be prosecuted for this.

In May, a judge decided that Salvini cannot be prosecuted for a similar incident. The politician therefore thinks that he cannot be punished for this either.

Salvini and his lawyer have summoned several politicians as witnesses in the case. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and current Home Minister Luciana Lamorgese can be questioned during the trial.

The ship‘s passengers were finally brought to Italy after an intervention by the prosecutor after nineteen days. Several people jumped overboard in despair in the meantime. The prosecutor seized the Open Arms organization’s ship, which allowed the people in Italy to land. Salvini felt that Spain should allow the ship as it was flying the Spanish flag.