Italian Senate approves lifting of Salvini’s immunity

Italy's Senate votes to send ex-interior minister Salvini to trial over alleged 'migrant kidnapping'

Italy's Senate votes to send ex-interior minister Salvini to trial over alleged 'migrant kidnapping'

While the case may go on for years in Italy's plodding court system and could undermine his bid for power, Salvini instructed lawmakers from his League party not to oppose the trial, in order to allow him to defend his actions.

On Wednesday, the Upper House voted 152-76 in favour of lifting immunity and allowing Salvini to be tried.

The Italian Senate is deciding Wednesday whether to allow former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to be prosecuted - as he demands to be - for alleging holding migrants hostage for days aboard a coast guard ship instead of letting them immediately disembark in Sicily last summer.

"One in three Italians vote for the League, so it is clear that the party needs to talk to everybody, not just the radical right", he told a group of foreign reporters.

The Salvini-led centre-right bloc lost a regional ballot last month in the wealthy Emilia Romagna region, a leftist stronghold, dashing his hopes of a historic triumph that could have triggered the downfall of Italy's fragile coalition government.

Salvini pulled the plug on Conte's first government in August prompting the creation of a new ruling majority.

Salvini, who previously served as Italy's interior minister, is accused of illegally keeping people on a boat off Sicily for days in August 2019, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

While the Gregoretti allowed several people off the ship for medical attention, some 116 people remained on board for days while Mr Salvini demanded other European Union countries take them in.

Under Italian law, ministers can not be tried for actions taken while in office unless a parliamentary committee gives the go-ahead.

Once the tally was announced, he immediately compared himself to impeached U.S. President Donald Trump, who has called the investigations during his presidency as the work of Democratic opponents and vindictive political enemies on the left.

Conte, who has remained prime minister while Salvini provoked his own ouster from government in August previous year, says he was not the one to decide whether the migrants should be allowed into port.

However, the head of the populist League party said that he defended Italy when he blocked the entrance of this, and other, boats to the Italian ports.

Salvini has repeatedly said he wants to go to court and is proud of what he did. Did minister Salvini act in the national interest?

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 speech, Salvini said this has become standard practice, even under the current Italian government, which supposedly peddles a softer line on migration.

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