Former Italian interior minister Salvini on trial for blocking migrant rescue boat
Far-right politician prevented Catalan NGO Open Arms ship from docking for 19 days
The trial of former Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, for not allowing a migrant rescue boat belonging to the Catalan NGO Open Arms to dock in August 2019 began on Saturday.
Accused of kidnapping the 147 migrants — including 60 minors — and crew on board, the far-right politician refused to allow them to disembark in an Italian port for 19 days.
Facing an onset of extreme weather conditions, an Italian court accepted the Catalan NGO's appeal against the de facto ban on sea rescue organizations and the boat was eventually allowed to dock in Lampedusa.
"The judge has accepted all of our witnesses and evidence," Open Arms Tweeted. "We are satisfied."
Terminada la primera audiencia de juicio #OpenArms #Mision65 contra Salvini en la que el juez ha admitido todos los testigos y las pruebas requeridas.— Open Arms (@openarms_fund) October 23, 2021
Próxima audiencia el 17 de diciembre. Seguimos. https://t.co/qDRqJgcl8z
One of the witnesses for the prosecution who will be called to testify is US actor Richard Gere, who expressed solidarity with the migrants and visited the ship.
According to Òscar Camps, the NGO's founder and director, Salvini's orders violated the rights of the people on board and caused "unnecessary suffering."
Salvini, meanwhile, lamented the time the trial was keeping him away from his daughters and blasted "the left" for wasting Italian taxpayers' money.
The far-right politician, who ridiculed Gere's presence, stood by his actions: "I am proud of having fulfilled my duty and defended the border."
The next hearing in the case brought forth by the NGO has been set for December 17.