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World Defiant Salvini readies for migrant trial as allies rally

11:15  01 october  2020
11:15  01 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Salvini , who faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty, indicated last week that he would be happy to go on trial -- a suggestion that gave 5-Star lawmakers political cover to vote for his parliamentary immunity to be lifted. That cover has now gone and there was no immediate comment from the 5-Star

Salvini , an anti-immigrant populist who was serving as interior minister at the time, could eventually face up During his 14 months at the interior ministry, Salvini made tackling migrant boats a priority, barring ports to On that occasion, parliament blocked the request, with 5-Star rallying to his support, arguing that the decision This time, his one-time allies say he acted unilaterally without prior assent.

Italy's far-right chief Matteo Salvini stands trial Saturday for allegedly illegally detaining migrants at sea, in a case that could see him jailed for 15 years or serve him a political win.

Matteo Salvini holding a sign: Matteo Salvini said he would plead 'guilty of defending Italy and Italians' © Piero CRUCIATTI Matteo Salvini said he would plead 'guilty of defending Italy and Italians'

Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Catania accuse Salvini of abusing his powers as then-interior minister to block 116 migrants from disembarking from the Italian Gregoretti coastguard boat last year under his so-called "closed ports" policy.

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Matteo Salvini , the leader of Italy's far-right movement, says he is not concerned about the prospect of standing trial , after he was accused of illegally

Salvini 's opposition allies voted against, while his own League party boycotted the vote. Earlier this month another tribunal in Sicily recommended that Salvini stand trial over a separate migrant stand-off dating from last August, with parliament expected to decide on this case later in the year.

"I'll plead guilty of having defended Italy and Italians," said Salvini, who has called for his supporters to descend on Catania for a rally while he is in the dock.

"I did it... because protecting my country's dignity is my duty as a senator, as a minister, and above all as an Italian," he said on Twitter on Wednesday, next to a picture of him grinning and a countdown clock to Saturday's preliminary hearing.

Fellow far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, head of the Brothers of Italy party, has promised to attend the rally, while ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has faced several trials himself, will send a delegation from his centre-right Forza Italia party.

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Matteo Salvini will face trial for stopping migrants from landing in Italy, gifting the former deputy prime minister a public platform for his anti-refugee policy after recent setbacks. Prosecutors are seeking to try him for refusing access to another migrant -carrying ship. An initial vote on this case is due Feb.

Salvini , who could face up to 15 years in jail and a permanent ban on holding political office, stood defiant and said in a series of fiery tweets that Meanwhile, another Sicilian tribunal said that Salvini should stand trial over another migrant standoff, last August. The parliament is expected to decide

a group of people in a small boat in a large body of water: Italy has seen repeated political battles over whether to allow migrants rescued at sea to land © Alessandro FUCARINI Italy has seen repeated political battles over whether to allow migrants rescued at sea to land

Salvini, head of the far-right League, has reportedly printed up T-Shirts for the event.

The migrants, who hailed largely from Sudan, as well as central and western Africa, were rescued in the Mediterranean in two separate operations on June 25 last year after five days at sea. There were 15 unaccompanied minors among them.

- 'Treated worse than animals' -

They were transferred to the Gregoretti on July 26, then held on the overcrowded patrol vessel under a fierce summer sun -- despite a scabies outbreak and a suspected case of tuberculosis.

"Not even animals are treated that badly," Aishat Saha from Nigeria was quoted as saying by the Repubblica daily.


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Saha, who was nine months pregnant at the time, was on board with her husband and their two children.

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Italy’s interior minister refused to allow 177 migrants to leave coastguard vessel in Catania.

MATTEO SALVINI has challenged his critics to 'arrest' him over the migrant boat standoff - as he defiantly defended his actions and said that Italy's EU allies had not kept their promises. Salvini 's DEFIANT rebuke of EU 'interference' in migrant showdown.

They were evacuated as a medical emergency and baby John Egidio was born just 72 hours later in Catania.

The family is a civil party in the trial and is expected in court Saturday, the daily said.

The 15 minors were eventually allowed off on July 29 following pressure from Catania's juvenile court.

The remaining migrants disembarked July 31 after Salvini, 47, said a deal had been brokered with EU countries to take them.

His defence team insists the decision to hold them was not Salvini's alone, but reached collectively within the government.

- 'Political battle' -

It will be up to preliminary hearing judge Nunzio Sarpietro to decide whether the case is strong enough to proceed with the trial.

He may not arrive at a decision Saturday, but request further preliminary hearings, Italian media said.

Analysts said the legal trouble was unlikely to hurt Salvini's popularity, but could on the contrary work in his favour.

"Those who chose to support Salvini (in the past) did so despite shady businesses," said political commentator Stefano Folli, pointing in particular to a scandal surrounding an alleged attempt to get money from Russia in a secret oil deal.

"Judicial investigations do not bother his supporters very much," he said.

Instead, the trial was "seen as an opportunity for a political battle".

Salvini's fierce "Italians First" stance saw his popularity shoot up as interior minister, though his polling numbers slid significantly during the coronavirus lockdown, which utterly overshadowed the migrant question.

The trial now looks set to pit the centre-left government, which has promised to water down his harsh security decree, against a right determined to take up the megaphone once more on one of Italy's most incendiary issues.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!