Senate votes for Salvini to face trial in migrant ‘kidnapping’ case

epa07737893 Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at the Ministry of the Interior Building (Viminale) during a meeting with the National Committee for Order and Public Security, Rome, Italy, 24 July 2019. EPA-EFE/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

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In Italy, a Senate panel voted to lift former interior minister Matteo Salvini’s parliamentary immunity to face trial in the alleged kidnapping of some 100 migrants aboard a coast guard ship last July.

A definitive vote will be taken by the whole Upper House on February 17. Lega’s leader Salvini risks 15 years in jail.

The panel vote was deadlocked after the League voted, on Salvini’s instructions, in favour of the trial and the League’s allies voted against, and as in all tied votes the nay won the day, after the majority 5-Star Movement (M5S), Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva (IV) boycotted the vote.

Salvini wanted to face trial to help muster popular support ahead of Sunday’s regional elections in Emilia-Romagna and Calabria. He said he was “ready to go to prison” to defend the principle of defending Italy’s borders. The League leader’s own five Senators voted, on his instructions, against the panel chair’s proposal to deny authorisation for trial. The League’s allies, four Senators from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) and one from Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI), voted in favour of the motion to deny trial.

This led to a tied vote, five five. In the case of ties, the rules of the Upper House lay down that the nays prevail. Salvini said he welcomed standing trial while his opponents said he was “playing the victim” and trying to act like a martyr to drum up support for Sunday’s regional contests. The League-led centre right is aiming to take leftwing stronghold Emilia Romagna for the first time, after winning another leftwing fief, Umbria, last year.

Salvini said earlier Monday that he was ready to go to prison to defend his position ahead of the vote.


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