By: V4 Agency
The prosecutor requested that proceedings in the Catania court against Italy’s former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini be dismissed as unfounded.
Prosecutor Andrea Bonomo told the court on Saturday that Salvini had acted in accordance with the immigration policies of the ruling Conte government when, before allowing migrants recently rescued by the Gregoretti coastguard ship to disembark at Italian ports, he secured their distribution amongst some willing EU states.
The charge of “holding people hostage” can thus be dismissed, he said. He also stressed that the migrants’ three-day-detainment period on board could not be considered as “unlawful restriction of their freedom.”
He highlighted that Salvini did not violate either Italian law, or any international conventions.
The prosecutor noted that migrants arriving illegally received medical assistance, food and full care on board, while the children and the sick were allowed to disembark immediately. However, according to lawyers representing the migrants, Salvini caused migrants on the ship to suffer by not permitting them to disembark immediately, and was thus acting in violation of the law.
The proceedings against Matteo Salvini began last October at the initiative of NGOs assisting migrants. The president of the Lega party, then as interior minister, ordered the 131 migrants to remain onboard the Gregoretti off the Italian coast for three days in the summer of 2019. Migrants were denied disembarkation while the government took action to distribute them among accepting EU states.
The next and final hearing in the preliminary proceedings against Salvini will take place on 23 April, and a decision regarding his indictment is expected on 14 May.