top of page

Matteo Salvini: Italian deputy PM takes stand in migrant kidnap trial

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has defended his hard-line approach against illegal migration during a court appearance in Sicily.

He is facing kidnap and dereliction of duty charges for preventing migrants from disembarking an NGO ship in 2019.

He has denied the charges, saying he acted "in the interest of national security".

At the time, Mr Salvini - the leader of the right-wing League - was interior minister in a previous government.

Ahead of his court appearance, Mr Salvini said on X, formerly Twitter, that he was "holding his head high, proud of what I did".

In August 2019, a migrant rescue vessel belonging to Spanish NGO Open Arms arrived near Italian shores carrying 147 migrants who had been rescued in the Mediterranean.

Mr Salvini - who a year earlier had announced his intention to "close the ports" of Italy to NGO rescue ships - immediately signed a decree banning the vessel from entering Italian territorial waters.

As a result, the Open Arms remained at sea for almost three weeks.

Crewmembers later testified that the migrants' physical and mental wellbeing disintegrated quickly over that period, eventually reaching crisis point due to dire sanitary conditions onboard, including a scabies outbreak.

On 20 August, Agrigento Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio ordered the vessel to be preventatively seized after inspecting it and noting the "difficult situation on board".

bottom of page