Italy's hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini should be tried for ‘aggravated kidnapping’ in connection with a summer stand-off over rescued migrants, a special court has ruled.
Salvini reported the news himself on Thursday in a Facebook video, in which he read a letter from the Tribunal of Ministers, a judicial body that deals with crimes committed by government members.
In August, the Italian coastguard Diciotti ship took 177 migrants to Sicily, but Salvini refused to let most of them disembark for almost a week, despite desperate living conditions aboard.
‘Yes, yes, yes, I lay claim to this, I confess it, I admit it: I blocked disembarkation proceedings for the migrants. If this is my guilt, if this is my crime, I declare myself guilty,’ Salvini said.
He eventually let the migrants off the boat after the Italian Catholic Church, Albania and Ireland agreed to share the burden of taking them in.
Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party and deputy prime minister, said the crime he is accused of carries a jail term of three to 15 years.
But he is unlikely to face justice as he enjoys parliamentary immunity and parliament, controlled by government parties, is not expected to lift it.
In keeping with his populist histrionics, Salvini pulled a stunned face as he read the charge against him and underlined it with a yellow highlighter, before showing it to the camera.
‘It's true, it's not a joke,’ he said.
Professing his innocence, he insisted it was his constitutional duty to protect Italian borders, and rhetorically asked his audience if they wanted him to keep his job.
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