Posted on April 21, 2021

Italy’s Salvini to Stand Trial for 2019 Migrant Standoff

Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, April 17, 2021

A judge on Saturday ordered former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to stand trial on kidnapping charges for having refused to let a Spanish migrant rescue ship dock in an Italian port in 2019, keeping the people onboard at sea for days.


Salvini, who attended the hearing, insisted that he was only doing his job and his duty by refusing entry to the Open Arms rescue ship and the 147 people it had saved in the Mediterranean Sea.

“I’m going on trial for this, for having defended my country?” he tweeted after the decision. “I’ll go with my head held high, also in your name.”

Palermo prosecutors have accused Salvini of dereliction of duty and kidnapping for having kept the migrants at sea off the Italian island of Lampedusa for days in August 2019. {snip}

Salvini, leader of the right-wing League party, had maintained a hard line on migration as interior minister during the first government of Premier Giuseppe Conte, from 2018-2019. {snip}

His lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, said she was serene despite the decision, saying she was certain the court would eventually determine that there was no kidnapping.

“There was no limitation on their freedom,” she told reporters after the indictment was handed down. “The ship had the possibility of going anywhere. There was just a prohibition of going into port. But it had 100,000 options.”


Salvini is also under investigation for another, similar migrant standoff involving the Italian coast guard ship Gregoretti that he refused to let dock in the summer of 2019.

The prosecutor in that case in Catania, Sicily, Andrea Bonomo, recommended last week that Salvini not be put on trial, arguing that he was only carrying out government policy when he kept the 116 migrants at sea for five days.