League leader and then-interior minister Matteo Salvini on July 3, 2019, in Nettuno, when the former Sea Watch 3 commander Carola Rackete was released. Rackete was arrested for a few hours after taking migrants to the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
League leader and then-interior minister Matteo Salvini on July 3, 2019, in Nettuno, when the former Sea Watch 3 commander Carola Rackete was released. Rackete was arrested for a few hours after taking migrants to the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

The leader of the right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, will go on trial on June 9 on charges of defaming the former commander of the Sea-Watch 3 migrant rescue ship Carola Rackete when he was interior minister in 2019. He called her "litter braggart", "German criminal", "rich German outlaw".

League leader Matteo Salvini will go on trial on June 9 on aggravated defamation charges against Carola Rackete, a former skipper of the migrant-rescue ship Sea Watch 3. That's according to judicial sources on Tuesday, March 15.

Salvini is accused of offending "the reputation" of the young woman between June and July 2019, when he was interior minister. He described her during Facebook lives and on Twitter as "a little braggart" who "does politics at the expense of a few dozen migrants"; "German criminal"; "rich German outlaw"; "rich and spoiled communist".

Salvini, represented by attorney Claudia Eccher, will be tried by a criminal court in Milan. Rackete, a plaintiff in the trial, is represented by attorney Alessandro Gamberini.

A preliminary investigations judge (GIP) in May last year dropped charges of instigation to commit crimes pressed against Salvini for also allegedly urging violence against Rackete.

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Rackete was arrested a few hours after allegedly violating orders by Italian authorities when she took the Sea-Watch 3 on June 29, 2019, to the port of Lampedusa to disembark 53 rescued migrants who had been on the boat for more than two weeks.

A judge last year shelved the case against Rackete for allegedly resisting arrest and showing violence against a warship after she rammed a police boat in landing, in defiance of Salvini's closed ports policy.

According to the charges pressed by prosecutors against Salvini in the trial starting in June, the League leader also offended Rackete by accusing her of being an "accomplice" of human traffickers, including in Facebook posts.

In May 2021, a preliminary investigations judge (GIP) dropped the charge of criminal solicitation against Salvini.

The "expressions" used by Salvini, the GIP wrote in the sentence, were only "a manifestation of thought" and did not contain "any expression or word" concretely encouraging social media users "to commit a crime" against Rackete.

The "multiple" posts on social media that followed Salvini's comments against the German activist, which were "seriously offensive and threatening", were not the "direct consequence of expressions" used by the League leader, the judge said.

The GIP also wrote in the sentence that the "legitimacy" of the thoughts expressed by Salvini through those sentences were the "object of another criminal procedure", or the defamation trial scheduled to begin in June, and therefore no further evaluation could be made on the issue.

 

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