Former Italian minister on trial over controversial policy on migrant arrival

Matteo Salvini has gone on trial for kidnapping charges over the controversial policies during his ministerial days which denied migrant rescue boats the right to dock on Italian shores. 

Formerly the Interior Minister, the right-wing leader of the League Party has been called by Sicilian courts in Catania to answer accusations of abuse of power and kidnapping over the 2019 Gregoretti Incident.

The event saw the coastal guard boat Bruno Gregoretti being denied access to the port on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Salvini had stated that the migrants would not be allowed out of the boat until other European countries agreed to welcome them.

The boat had aboard around 140 migrants picked up while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya, all of which were forced to spend six days on the vessel before the dire sanitary conditions which developed aboard forced authorities to allow them to disembark.

This was the result of his decision early in his government career in 2018 to declare every Italian port closed to any ship that had been involved in the rescue of migrants fleeing north Africa.

Salvini stated that he “…will plead guilty to defending Italy and the Italians”. His defence rests in the argument that he was not alone in the decision to essentially hold the migrants captive, insisting the choice was one agreed collectively by the government.

Other far-right political figures in Italy have stated their support for Salvini including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, himself at the centre of multiple legal actions.

Recent developments have shown that the current Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has been called to testify in the trial.


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Marco Rizzo

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September 2021
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