Italy’s far-right leader Salvini cleared in migrant-abduction case

Photo: EPA

A preliminary hearings judge in Catania on Friday cleared Italian League leader Matteo Salvini of accusations that as interior minister in 2019 he effectively abducted 131 migrants, rescued at sea, by refusing to allow the Gregoretti coastguard ship to dock for several days, news wires reported. The judge upheld requests from both the defence team and prosecutors to drop the case and not send Salvini to trial.

Salvini said he had been defending the country while carrying out his so-called "closed ports" policy amid a surge of migrants arriving on Italy's shores after crossing the Mediterranean.

Italy's Senate voted last year to strip the politician of his parliamentary immunity, paving the way for the trial.

After leaving court, Salvini said the ruling shows that "a minister who defended the dignity and the borders of Italy is a minister who simply did his duty". However, he still faces trial in September in a separate but similar case.

Over the weekend, more than 2,200 migrants from Tunisia and Libya arrived at the island of Lampedusa. Italy’s PM Mario Draghi appealed to its European neighbours to revive a migrant-sharing deal that was blocked during the coronavirus pandemic.

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