Italian prosecutor seeks Matteo Salvini trial over migrant ship he turned away

Italian prosecutor seeks Matteo Salvini trial over migrant ship he turned away
Copyright Alessandro Di Meo/Alessandro Di Meo/POOL Ansa/LaPresse
By Michael Daventry
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The right-wing leader, a former interior minister, faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty

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Italy's former interior minister Matteo Salvini has described himself as "the calmest defendant on the face of the Earth" after a prosecutor recommended he face trial on charges of kidnapping.

The leader of the right-wing League party is facing allegations in connection to a ship full of migrants that he tried to prevent landing in Italy in 2019.

He served 14 months as interior minister, during which time he attempted to prevent several ship landings.

He could face 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The case is part of a long-running legal process that involved Italy's Senate authorising a court to investigate him.

But Salvini said he was confident that it would be dismissed: "I leave it to the judges to judge whether a minister who has defended his country under the respect of the law deserves 15 years in jail or if on the contrary jail deserves those who have endangered the lives of thousands of people."

But the organisation Open Arms, whose ship was involved in Salvini's decision, welcomed the prosecutor's move.

"Violating the rights of vulnerable people is a crime in any democratic country that respects the Constitution and international Conventions," it said.

Judge Lorenzo Innaneli will decide whether there will be a trial on April 17.

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