Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party and former Italian interior minister | Photo: ANSA/Angelo Carconi
Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party and former Italian interior minister | Photo: ANSA/Angelo Carconi

The Catania court of ministers has spoken out against former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini. The far-right politician could face kidnapping charges because he refused to let a ship with rescued migrants aboard dock.

The Catania court of ministers said League leader Matteo Salvini abused his powers as interior minister by "depriving 131 migrants aboard the Italian Coast Guard ship Gregoretti of their freedom from 12:35 am on July 27, 2019 through the afternoon of July 31", in a letter submitted on Wednesday.

The court of ministers has spoken out in favor of continuing with a kidnapping case against Salvini. 

The 5-Star Movement (M5S) announced it will vote in favor of the authorisation to proceed -- even though the party collaborated with Salvini's League from June 2018 to July 2019, when the two parties formed an allied government. 

Prosecutor wants to shelve the case

The Catania prosecutor's office had asked to shelve the case against Salvini. They argued that "the three-day wait can't be considered an illegal deprivation of freedom" given that the "limitations continued in the hotspot of Pozzallo" and that "there is no State obligation for an immediate disembarkation." 

The local court of ministers sees things differently. They believe that Salvini "consciously deprived the migrants of their personal freedom," which "forced [them] to remain in critical psycho-physical conditions."

Salvini defends himself

"The fact that I'm risking 15 years in prison for having defended my country's borders on the basis of international agreements leads me to say that in Italy there's a problem," Salvini said. "I thank the majority of the judiciary, which is objective, fair, and independent. But there's a part that is political and throws money away. I'm curious to see what position M5S will take, as on the analogous case of the Diciotti it voted against authorisation to proceed," Salvini said. 

M5S leader and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio responded promptly, saying: "This isn't about doing a favor or not for someone," Di Maio said. "In January or February of this year we were called to recognize the overriding public interest in blocking a ship. But we're talking about a ship blocked in July, when the other European countries that were called on offered to redistribute the migrants," he said. 

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