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Italy lifts far-right leader Salvini's immunity over migrant boat

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 01:16s - Published
Italy lifts far-right leader Salvini's immunity over migrant boat

Italy lifts far-right leader Salvini's immunity over migrant boat

Italy's Senate voted Wednesday (February 12) to lift immunity from prosecution from far-right leader Matteo Salvini.

The former interior minister could now face trial over his refusal to let migrants disembark at an Italian port.

Lucy Fielder reports.

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Italy has lifted immunity from prosecution for far-right leader Matteo Salvini, paving the way for a trial that could end his career.

The accusation: that he illegally detained migrants at sea last year when he refused - as interior minister at the time - to let them disembark from the Gregoretti coastguard vessel, ignoring pleas from human rights groups.

Magistrates believe that was an abuse of power that amounted to de facto kidnapping.

Salvini was defiant when he addressed the Senate hearing before the vote.

(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) LEAGUE LEADER, MATTEO SALVINI, SAYING: "I think I have defended my homeland, I do not ask for a prize because I received a salary for that but if there must be a trial, so be it." Salvini, the head of Italy's anti-immigrant League party, could face up to 15 years in jail if he's eventually found guilty by Italy's tortuous legal system.

In his 14 months at the interior ministry, Salvini made tackling migrant boats a priority, barring ports to them and threatening charities operating them with fees.

Under Italian law, former ministers can't be tried for actions undertaken while in office unless parliament authorizes it.



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