Matteo Salvini, head of Italy’s right-wing Liga party, should not stand trial on charges of kidnapping a group of migrants by refusing to disembark them from a ship, a judge ruled in the Sicilian city of Catania on Friday.
The case concerned an incident in July 2019 in which Salvini, then Interior Minister, blocked more than 100 people aboard the Coast Guard ship Gregoretti for six days while he waited for European allies to agree to resettle them.
The Catania case is similar to a separate investigation in the Sicilian capital of Palermo about migrants who were kept aboard another boat a month after the Gregoretti incident.
However, in a completely opposite ruling, a Palermo judge ruled last month that Salvini should stand trial on the charges. If found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in prison. read more
“If there was no kidnapping in Catania, then I don’t understand why the kidnapping should take place in Palermo,” Salvini told reporters after Friday’s decision.
The trial in Palermo will begin on 15 September.
The Catania prosecutor’s office asked the judge not to send Salvini to court, stating that his decision did not violate international treaties and could not be considered a kidnapping.
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