Former Italian interior minister and leader of the far-right La Liga party, Matteo Salvini, will appear in a court in Palermo, Sicily today to answer allegations of imprisonment and abuse of office by preventing the rescue ship from landing in the 2019 Spanish ‘Open Poor’.
Salvini faces a maximum of 15 years imprisonment because he announced this ban, one of the high points of his fight against the wave of migration, during a process in which the role of the then government advisor and current minister, Luciana Lamorgese, and the then Minister for Labor and Social Policy, now Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio.
According to information from the NGO Open Arms at the time, the rescue ship set off in August 2019 with more than 160 rescued migrants in three missions as part of its 65th rescue trip to Sicily.
The ship arrived in Lampedusa in mid-August, but was not allowed to disembark despite the critical humanitarian situation of the migrants it was carrying. In the end, prosecutors decided to appropriate the ship to enable docking. Up until then there were still 147 migrants on the ship; the rest had disembarked urgently for medical attention.
Salvini, according to the statement of objections collected by ‘La Repubblica’, “caused the unlawful deprivation of personal liberty of the aforementioned migrants and forced them to stay on board the ship for a legally acceptable period of time, from exactly the night between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. from August 15, 2019 to August 18, 2019 “
“Aggravating facts”, the indictment goes on to say, “to have been committed by a public official who abuses the powers inherent in their functions and even to the detriment of minors” with regard to rescued young people who were on the ship.
It is up to the interior minister, “as the national authority for public security”, to assign the ship to the “safe harbor”, hence the allegation against Salvini, whom the court regards as an “undisputed protagonist”, since the then Prime Minister Minister Giuseppe Conte requested disembarkation of minors.
Salvini assured all along that he was defending Italy and the interests of the government, defending himself with the risk of landing smugglers who were hiding among the migrants. The court rejected this version of events. “At none of the accesses on board by the Italian authorities did the migrants ever show any indications of concrete, concrete and objective dangerous conditions,” the court said.