Italy’s Senate lifted the immunity of Matteo Salvini

The Italian Senate has approved that former Minister and right-wing leader Salvini be tried for delaying the disembarkation of people from a migrant rescue ship.

 Italy’s Senate lifted the immunity of former Minister Matteo Salvini on July 30 in a vote that got 149 votes in favour versus 141 against. “It will be a joy for me to go to (court in) Sicily to defend my right to defend our beautiful country,” Salvini told the Senate, quoted by Reuters. “I am quiet and proud to have defended, unlike the current government, the borders and the honour of my country!”, he posted on Twitter that day, a social media where he has more than a million followers.

The prosecution is related to Salvini’s decision in August 2019 not to allow over 100 people who have been rescued at sea to get off a ship in Sicily. The ship was operated by the Spanish group Open Arms. The Italian politician refused access to the rescue ship. After 19 days at sea, finally, the ship was allowed to enter on the Italian island of Lampedusa, and the ship was temporarily seized.

Losing the parliamentary immunity means that Matteo Salvini could now face a trial for allegedly illegally detaining migrants at sea. Prosecutors have accused Salvini of abusing his powers as then-Interior Minister. The hearing was postponed three times due to the pandemic and is now scheduled to be held in Sicily on October 3.