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Italian ex-minister faces kidnapping trial for blocking migrant ship

Italian ex-minister faces kidnapping trial for blocking migrant ship
Prosecutors accuse Salvini of dereliction of duty and kidnapping for refusing to allow the ship into port for days in August 2019

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s former interior minister, has gone on trip accused of kidnapping after Spanish migrant rescue ship to dock in Sicily, forcing the people onboard to remain at sea for days.

It is the first trial to go ahead against Mr Salvini for his actions preventing migrant landings while he served as interior minister during 2018 et 2019 in an uneasy coalition between the populist 5-Star Movement and his right-wing League group.

He was present for the opening day of the trial in Palermo, Sicily, which was expected to deal mostly with procedural requests.

He has insisted he was fulfilling his duty by refusing entry to the Open Arms rescue ship, et le 147 people it had saved in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, dans 2019.

He took a hard line on migrant arrivals, blocking ships and pushing for Europe to take some of the burden off Italy.

Prosecutors accuse Salvini of dereliction of duty and kidnapping for refusing to allow the ship into port for days in August 2019.

During the near-three-week standoff, some migrants threw themselves overboard in desperation and the captain pleaded for a safe nearby port. Some migrants were taken to land for humanitarian or health reasons, while the remaining 83 were eventually allowed to disembark on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Oscar Camps, head of the Spanish non-governmental organisation Open Arms, mentionné:“We expect justice for the unnecessary suffering that all the people had in those 20 days.”

A court in Catania, Sicily, earlier this year decided not to try Salvini in a similar case, for keeping 116 migrants on board an Italian coastguard ship at sea for five days, also in 2019.