A second trial against former minister Matteo Salvini (Lega) is becoming more and more probable: once again the Senate has lifted the immunity of the right-wing extremist politician. 149 votes of the reduced parliament voted in favour, 141 against.
In this specific case, a court in Palermo Salvini accuses Salvini of “abuse of office” during his time as Minister of the Interior. He had forbidden the Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” to dock in Italy. With this decision the migrants and sea rescuers had no other choice than to remain at sea. As a member of parliament Salvini enjoys immunity, which has now been lifted by a majority of the senate.
Thus, the vote of February has been repeated: At that time, a court in Catania (Sicily) had also accused Salvini of “abuse of office”. This case concerned the Italian ship “Gregoretti”, which Salvini also refused to allow into Italian ports. There were 116 refugees on board. They stayed on the ship under the worst conditions.
Salvini: “Just doing my duty”
During the parliamentary debate, which lasted several hours, Matteo Salvini expressed confidence. However, he stressed that a “political trial” was being conducted against him. “I won’t bring my opponents to justice. The only court is the court of the people,” Salvini recently tweeted. After the vote, he told journalists that he had “fulfilled his duty with determination and common sense”.
The radical right-wing ex-minister receives prominent support from none other than Silvio Berlusconi. “Once again, the political commitment to justice is the weapon with which the left wants to get rid of its opponents. It is the same method they used against me,” said Berlusconi.
Salvini faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years if he is found guilty. The trial could mean the end of the political career of the Lega’s general secretary. The Italian daily “La Repubblica” writes that the trial would clear the way for his succession. In addition to a prison sentence, there is also the threat of a ban on political activities for up to eight years.