World Italy's Salvini on trial for blocking migrant boat
Italy's Salvini ridicules calling of actor Gere to kidnapping trial
Italy's Salvini ridicules calling of actor Gere to kidnapping trialPALERMO, Italy (Reuters) - Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy's right-wing League party, said a trial where he faces kidnapping charges for refusing to let a migrant ship dock in the country in 2019 was not serious as actor Richard Gere was admitted to testify.
Italian ex-interior minister Matteo Salvini has gone on trial in Sicily, accused of preventing a migrant boat from docking in August 2019.
The right-wing politician denies kidnap and dereliction of duty charges.
Prosecution witnesses include Hollywood actor Richard Gere, who was on board.
Mr Salvini closed ports to rescue boats, leaving dozens of migrants saved from the Mediterranean stranded aboard a Spanish rescue vessel for three weeks in deteriorating conditions.
He faces a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted.
Pope Francis compares Libyan centers to 'concentration camps'
Pope Francis has likened migrant detention centers in Libya to "concentration camps" and called on the international community to intervene in a worsening migrant situation in the central Mediterranean region. © Vatican TV The Pontiff's remarks after Sunday's angelus come just a day after an Italian prosecutor summoned American Hollywood star Richard Gere to testify in a trial against Italy's right-wing politician Matteo Salvini. The Pope urged the international community to help find "lasting solutions" for the management of the migration flows.
On the opening day of the trial, the judge allowed all witnesses submitted by both sides to testify. They also include former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and members of his cabinet.
But the defendant mocked Mr Gere's presence.
"I wonder if it's serious that Richard Gere of Hollywood is going to testify about my behaviour at a trial," he told journalists outside the court.
Mr Gere had boarded the Spanish ship the Open Arms before it docked after 19 days at sea on the island of Lampedusa with nearly 150 migrants on board.
Mr Salvini said he was defending his government's "closed ports" policy aimed at stopping migrants from making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.
But his blockade of the ship caused an outcry and a serious split in the coalition government at the time. His League party was in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star, but now he is an opposition MP.
Center-left wins in Rome, elsewhere in blow to Italy's right
ROME (AP) — Italy’s center-left forces won big in Rome, Turin and several other mayoral runoffs on Monday, dealing embarrassing defeats to the anti-migrant and far-right parties that are hoping to capture Italy's premiership in the next national election. Roberto Gualtieri from Italy's Democratic Party trounced a challenger who had been selected by the Brothers of Italy, a party with neo-fascist roots, to win Rome’s City Hall, taking some 60% of the vote, with nearly all the ballots counted.
In July last year, the Senate voted to strip him of his parliamentary immunity.
Mr Contewith keeping migrants out of Italian ports.
In 2019 the Open Arms charity filed a legal complaint against Mr Salvini's block on their ship, which ended on 20 August.
By that time, many of the migrants had already been allowed off the ship.
The charity's founder Oscar Camps told reporters outside the trial on Saturday that saving lives should not be politicised.
"Rescuing people in the sea is no crime, it's an obligation not only for the captain but also for all states," he said.
The court adjourned after several hours. A further hearing has been scheduled for 17 December.
Ship Captain Convicted in Italy for Returning 101 Rescued Migrants to Libya .
As Libya is not considered a safe port by the U.N. refugee agency or the European Union, the captain was convicted on abandonment-related charges.Libya is not considered a safe port by the U.N. refugee agency and the European Union, so forcing refugees to return there, especially unaccompanied minors, is a possible violation of their right to protection and to seek asylum, the Associated Press reported.