Italy | Salvini accused of “kidnapping” and “abandonment of duty” for his blockade of the NGO Open Arms

The preliminary hearing against former Italian Interior Minister Mateo Salvini will continue on January 14.

Salvini appears before the justice of his country for having blocked the entry of more than a hundred migrants aboard the humanitarian ship Open Arms, in August 2019.

The postponement of the hearing is due to the fact that the judge, Lorenzo Jannelli, has admitted the request for a series of tests by his defense.

“Open Arms said no to a landing in Malta, it said no to a Spanish port. It said no to a second Spanish port, to the proposal of the Government of Spain to send a military ship to Italy to take the migrants and take them away. The Open Arms vessel endangered the lives of the 147 migrants on board, “declared the leader of the Northern League party, adding that he would make the” same decision “(the entry block) when” he returns to the government. ”

The far-right politician is accused of kidnapping and neglect of duty by denying the landing of the ship of the Spanish NGO for three weeks.

The defense points out that “it was not for Italy to indicate a safe port” because the migrants had been “rescued in Libyan and Maltese waters by a ship flying the Spanish flag.” And that Italy, in any case, did not refuse to provide assistance to the migrants and that in fact the minors were disembarked.

Chronology of an odyssey

In August 2019, the then Minister of the Interior denied for 21 days the landing on the island of Lampedusa (the southernmost island in Italy) to about 160 migrants who had been rescued at sea by the Spanish NGO ship.

In the end, only less than 90 remained on board after a trickle of partial evacuations for medical reasons and the launch of several dozen of them into the sea as a result of desperation.

In the final three days alone, when the ship was anchored just 800 meters from the port of Lampedusa, almost a score of migrants jumped overboard and reached the port or were rescued.

The first offer from the Spanish Government to open a port to these migrants came after a 17-day odyssey, but the Open Arms refused to set sail for the ports of Algeciras and Mahón.

With the migrants crowded on deck in harsh conditions, they alleged security reasons, lack of facilities and the poor physical and mental condition of those rescued, as well as the fatigue of the crew and volunteers due to the long crisis.

Madrid sent the ship “Audaz” of the Spanish Navy to take charge of the migrants and escort the “Open Arms” to the port of Mallorca.

But finally, on the night of August 20, the Prosecutor’s Office allowed the 83 immigrants who remained on board to disembark in Lampedusa, putting an end to the odyssey. The Agrigento prosecutor made the decision after boarding the Spanish ship accompanied by several doctors to verify the status of the migrants and the situation on board.