Former Italian MP Matteo Salvini could spend 15 years in prison after the Senate allowed him to be tried for "illegal detention of migrants at sea".
- The vote took place today with an abstention in the Italian Senate in Rome between 149 and 141
- He is accused of using his power to illegally prevent more than 80 Mediterranean migrants rescued from disembarking the Open Arms charity ship
- "If someone thinks that this will scare me with a politically motivated process, you have the wrong man," said Matteo Salvini before the vote
The Italian Senate voted today to deprive extreme right-wing leader Matteo Salvini of his parliamentary immunity in order to pave the way for him to be tried for allegedly illegal detention of migrants at sea.
The vote, which passed with 149 votes to 141 in a abstention, opens the way for a new and potentially career-defeating trial against charges where Senator Salvini could be imprisoned for up to 15 years.
"If anyone thinks that this will scare me with a politically motivated process, you have the wrong man," Salvini told the Senate before the vote.
The head of the anti-immigrant league will also face trial in a separate but similar case.
The Italian Senator and right-wing extremist Leader of the Lega Party, Matteo Salvini, recognizes the applause of his party colleagues after his speech today in the Italian Senate in Rome, before voting on whether Salvini should be deprived of his parliamentary immunity so that he can act for the second time Time can be brought to justice for the alleged illegal detention of migrants at sea
Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Palermo accuse Salvini of using his powers as Interior Minister at the time in August 2019 to illegally prevent more than 80 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean from disembarking from the Open Arms charity ship.
Ministers cannot be brought to justice for measures unless their parliamentary immunity is revoked by the Senate.
Voting is expected around 1600 GMT.
& # 39; Defending Italy is not a crime. I am proud I would do it again and I will do it again, ”said Salvini on Wednesday.
He insisted that the decision to prevent migrants from leaving the ship until an agreement was reached with EU countries to accommodate them was made jointly within the government.
This is the same defense that Salvini uses in the other trial accusing him of preventing migrants from getting off the Italian coast guard boat Gregoretti last July.
In February the Senate voted to withdraw his parliamentary immunity in this case. The preliminary hearing has been postponed three times due to the coronavirus pandemic and is now scheduled to take place in Sicily on October 3.
Political scientist Franco Pavoncello said Senate approval of the Open Arms process would "certainly affect Salvini," whose popularity has declined since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy.
Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Palermo accuse Salvini of using his powers as Interior Minister at the time in August 2019 to illegally prevent more than 80 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean from disembarking from the charity ship Open Arms (pictured as an Italian police boat sailing towards the Spanish Rescue ship)
Salvini, 47, says Italy's more than two-month lockout hit him and his party hard as he had to end his frequent rallies across the country and his famous beach selfie sessions.
A Demopolis poll this week found the league fell more than 11 points in a year, from 37 percent of the election intentions to 25.4 percent today.
& # 39; At the moment Salvini is of little media interest. The decision to deprive him of his immunity would reopen the case and attract media attention, ”Pavoncello told AFP.
"Those who vote to put him on trial to create political problems for him could instead put him in the spotlight."
However, he warned that while Salvini could make temporary profits, "a process could be difficult in the long run because the charges are serious".
Salvini is currently in opposition, but is determined to become prime minister.
Although the league may slip in the polls, it is still the most popular party in Italy, and its leader expects it to do well in the next election.
However, a conviction could throw a serious key into the works.
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