In Italy, right-wing leader Matteo Salvini appeared in a Sicilian court on Saturday (3) for the first day of the process in which he is accused of preventing the landing of migrants rescued at sea.
The preliminary hearing, however, was postponed to November 20 by the judge in the case.
The trial could affect Salvini’s career. He is accused of abuse of power and kidnapping people for having ordered the blocking of the landing of 116 migrants from the Italian Coast Guard ship “Gregoretti” when he was Minister of the Interior in July 2019.
See below a video about the case.
Italian court orders the arrival of immigrants who had been waiting for 19 days on a boat
He is one of the most popular politicians in the country. If he is sentenced to more than two years in prison, he will not be able to hold a public office for six years, which would leave him out of the elections scheduled for 2023.
Decision on the strength of the case
The judge at the preliminary hearing, Nunzio Sarpietro, should decide whether the case is strong enough for the trial to proceed.
By postponing the issue to November, Sarpietro announced that he wants to hear Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as well as the current Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese, and Chancellor Luigi Di Maio.
Attempt to get the trial to favor you politically
“I chose the best suit for the audience,” said Salvini as he disembarked on Thursday in Sicily for three days of meetings and demonstrations organized under the motto “Italians choose freedom”.
His party, Liga, ordered shirts and offered flights with cheaper tickets to Catania for the so-called “freedom festival”, which will be attended by Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party.
All deputies, senators and right-wing MEPs were called to an event in their favor.
The police mobilized 500 agents to prevent clashes between Salvini’s supporters and leftist militants.
Salvini announced that he intended to plead before the judges “guilty of defending Italy and the Italians”.
A kind of challenge to Justice, which sues him for having ordered the 116 migrants to remain on the vessel for almost a week in compliance with its “closed ports” policy, which prevented humanitarian boats from entering Italian ports.
A Nigerian family reported abuse during their stay on the vessel.
A document prepared by Salvini’s defense lawyers alleges that the decision to block the vessel was made because two drug dealers were on board and that the waiting time was necessary to guarantee another destination for immigrants.
The 116 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean after sailing for five days adrift.
They stayed on the patrol boat in the strong summer sun and faced an outbreak of scabies, as well as a suspected case of tuberculosis. Fifteen minors were allowed to leave under pressure from the juvenile court in Catania.
The rest landed on July 31, after Salvini, 47, announced that he had negotiated an agreement with EU countries for the transfer.
“That a court allows itself to judge a minister’s political and government line is a dangerous precedent,” commented Salvini, who wants to involve Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in the issue because he considers the decision to block the vessel to be collective, at all. the government.
Conte says it was Salvini who exceeded his powers
Conte rejects the allegation and recalls that it was precisely Matteo Salvini who passed a special decree to strengthen his powers as a minister due to internal opposition to his closed port policy.
The right-wing leader, who asked the judges to focus on fighting the mafia instead of his case, says his decision must be judged by the Italians.
“The Italians will say in the next elections whether or not I did the right thing,” he said.