Italy’s Senate will formally debate today whether to strip former interior minister Matteo Salvini of his parliamentary immunity. On January
Italy’s Senate will formally debate today whether to strip former interior minister Matteo Salvini of his parliamentary immunity.
On January 20, a Senate committee voted to revoke Salvini’s immunity, opening the way for him to stand trial. Under Italian law, current and former ministers cannot be tried for actions in office without parliamentary approval.
Upon the recommendation of a Sicilian court, Salvini has been accused of “abuse of power” for refusing to allow 131 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean to disembark from a coast guard boat until a deal to host them was reached with other European states.
Facing a 15-year maximum prison sentence, Salvini claims that the decision to detain the migrants was not individually made but backed by the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Coming a few weeks after a key defeat in an important regional election in Italy’s Emilia Romagna province, Salvini likely sees a probable trial as a chance for his right-wing League to return to power. Regardless of whether Salvini is acquitted or convicted, or the case against him even makes it to trial, the League and its anti-immigrant, firebrand leader are bound to benefit electorally from a partisan debate over Italy’s immigration future, which Salvini’s right-wing forces are trying to wrest from the more moderate governance of the populist Five Star Movement and the centre-left Democratic Party.
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