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12 Feb, 2020 21:29

Defiant Salvini says opponents ‘will be defeated by history’ as Senate lifts his immunity in migrant ‘kidnapping’ case

Defiant Salvini says opponents ‘will be defeated by history’ as Senate lifts his immunity in migrant ‘kidnapping’ case

Italy’s former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said he will appear in court over suspected abuse of power as the Senate voted to remove his immunity, opening the way for a trial over alleged illegal detention of migrants.

The former deputy Prime Minister and the head of the right-wing Northern League Party faces charges of “aggravated kidnapping” over his decision to prevent the landing of more than 130 migrants rescued by the Italian coast guard last July, for about a week. Now, most Senators gave the case against him the go-ahead as they voted to lift his immunity.

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The senators from Salvini’s Lega Nord party left the room and did not take part in the vote. Salvini, who could face up to 15 years in jail and a permanent ban on holding political office, stood defiant and said in a series of fiery tweets that he would not “flee” or dodge trial but would face what he called the “political aggression” against him and would rely on the impartiality of the judges.” 

Those who vote today to put me on trial thinking of winning, they’ll be defeated by history.

He also defended his policies by saying that “the defense of the homeland is a sacred duty.” During his 14-month tenure as interior minister, Salvini embraced a tougher approach to dealing with migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea both by NGOs and the Italian coast guard. He repeatedly refused to allow them to disembark in Italy, provoking tense standoffs between Rome and Brussels.

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Prosecutors in Sicily have already attempted to probe him over one such incident in 2018 but their bid was defeated in parliament. Meanwhile, another Sicilian tribunal said that Salvini should stand trial over another migrant standoff, last August. The parliament is expected to decide on this case separately later this year.

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