Apr 17, 2021 - World

Italy's Salvini to face trial on migrant kidnapping charges

Matteo Salvini

Former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Roberto Monaldo/Getty Images

A judge on Saturday ordered former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to stand trial on kidnapping charges related to his decision to prevent a Spanish rescue ship carrying over 100 refugees and migrants to dock at an Italian port in 2019.

Driving the news: Salvini, who was also deputy prime minister at the time, refused to the allow the ship to dock, leaving those onboard stranded at sea for nearly three weeks. Eventually, prosecutors ordered the seizure of the ship and the evacuation of those onboard, per Reuters.

What they're saying: Salvini, who stopped several boats from docking at Italian ports while he was interior minister, insisted he was only doing his job, per AP.

  • “I’m going on trial for this, for having defended my country?” Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, tweeted. “I’ll go with my head held high, also in your name.”

Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish NGO that operated the migrant rescue ship, welcomed Saturday's decision, tweeting: "We are happy for all the people we rescued in that 65 #OpenArms mission and for all the vulnerable people saved so far in the sea of ​​sham."

  • “This trial is a reminder to Europe and the world that there are principles of individual responsibility in politics,” said Open Arms founder Òscar Camps, per AP. Saturday's decision illustrates "it’s possible to identify the responsibility of the protagonists of this tragedy at sea."

What to watch: Salvini's trial is set for Sept. 15.

  • He could face up to 15 years in jail and be barred from government office if found guilty, according to Reuters.
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