An Italian court has cleared the way for potential prosecution of populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini over allegations including kidnapping related to a migrant vessel incident in August.
Initially, the potential charges against Salvini were dropped following a statement by the prosecutor of Catania but now a group of other magistrates from Catania have reopened the possibility of Salvini seeing a day in court, Il Giornale reports.
The charges originate from the case of the vessel Diciotti which picked up migrants in the Mediterranean and attempted to bring them to Italy in mid-August. While Salvini allowed the vessel to dock at an Italian port, he refused to allow the migrants onboard to disembark onto Italian soil where they could claim asylum.
Prosecutors initially looked at potentially charging Salvini for “illegal confinement, illegal arrest and abuse of power,” over the incident but dropped the charges in November.
Salvini Refuses to Reopen Italy's Ports: Stopping Migrant Boats Saving Lives https://t.co/T7FAAFsvgy
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 23, 2019
Salvini commented on the new court decision saying, “I’ll be investigated for the aggravated seizure of people and minors. I received court proceedings in Catania, and now it’s up to the Senate to comment on the aggravated kidnapping because I dared to block the landing of the Diciotti ship.”
The court move coincides with a new formal letter from the European Union which could begin the infringement procedure against Italy over complaints from Brussels that the populist Italian government has not been following the Eurodac regulation, a fingerprint database for asylum seekers.
The European Commission alleges that Italy has not been taking the fingerprints, which are meant to be taken within the first 72 hours, consistently enough. The EU also sent out warnings to Greece and Croatia over the issue in October.
The threat of sanctions, which could follow the infringement procedure, have been made before by the Commission to Italy over an earlier draft of the Italian budget which the EU claimed was too close to the annual deficit limit allowed by the political bloc.