Leader of far-right party under investigation after preventing 177 migrants from disembarking in Italy
'Italy’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, Matteo Salvini, is one step away from facing trial after a surprise court ruling determined that he be tried for kidnapping.
In August, prosecutors in Agrigento, Sicily, placed Salvini, who is leader of the far-right party the League, under investigation for the alleged kidnapping and detention of 177 migrants whom he prevented from disembarking the Italian coastguard ship Ubaldo Diciotti.
The ship had been docked for six days at the Sicilian port of Catania as Salvini maintained a standoff with the EU in an attempt to push other member states to take in the migrants. The Catholic church, Ireland and Albania, which is not an EU state, eventually agreed to host the mostly Eritrean migrants.
“I could face up to 15 years of jail because I have stopped the disembarking of illegals in Italy,” Salvini wrote on Facebook in response. “I’m speechless. Am I afraid? Not at all. I’m not going to give up on this. Now the decision will pass through the Senate. We’ll see how it goes …”
Since Salvini is a government minister, the accusations against him will be put to parliamentarians or senators, who will vote either for him to stand trial or for the proceedings to be halted.
Salvini said he was confident he had the support of the senators from the League, his far-right party. But the support of his coalition partners, the populist Five Star Movement, is far less assured. One of the M5S’s founding principles has always been to ask for the resignation of politicians under investigation.
Until last year, this principle was written in the Movement’s own statutes. The rule was part of the party’s attempt to present a clean image and distance itself from corruption.'
Read more: See what happens when you challenge the established order? Court in Italy rules Matteo Salvini should be tried for kidnapping