Rest of senate must choose whether to ratify decision over kidnapping charges
'An Italian parliamentary committee has voted to block a criminal case against Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister and interior minister, for refusing to allow migrants to disembark from a rescue ship.
Prosecutors in Catania, Sicily, need the backing of parliament to continue investigations against Salvini, who also leads the far-right League party, for alleged abuse of office and kidnapping.
Sixteen senators from the committee voted to defend Salvini’s parliamentary immunity, while six were against. The Italian senate has until 24 March to decide whether or not to ratify the outcome of the vote.
Salvini had sought immunity, arguing he acted in the interests of Italians when he stopped the 150 passengers, mostly from Eritrea, aboard an Italian coastguard ship from landing in Catania last August. Those onboard were stranded at sea for five days amid an EU standoff before the Catholic church, Ireland and Albania offered to take them in. Salvini’s coalition partner, Luigi Di Maio, who fronts the Five Star Movement (M5S), supported his actions, arguing the decision was taken by the government as a whole.
The result of the committee vote may ease tensions between the partners over other issues but has caused rifts within M5S as the party had garnered much of its support through a founding policy that called for the resignation of politicians under investigation.
The party turned to its online platform, called Rousseau, on Monday to ask members to vote on the issue, a move that resulted in 59% supporting Salvini but which prompted criticism from some M5S politicians.'
Read more: Italian senate group votes to block criminal case against Salvini