A leaked chat between Italian magistrates revealed that while they admitted thinking in private that former interior minister Matteo Salvini’s migrant policies were correct and legal, they chose to attack him publicly anyway.
The leaked messages were made on WhatsApp in 2018 while Salvini served as interior minister. During that time, judges were continually attacking the League leader for his policy that closed Italy’s ports to migrant transport NGO vessels operating in the Mediterranean.
Paolo Auriemma, chief prosecutor of the city of Viterbo, stated in one message revealed by newspaper La Verità: “I’m sorry to say that I don’t really see where Salvini is wrong. Illegitimate attempts are made to enter Italy, and the Minister of the Interior intervenes to prevent this from happening. And I don’t understand what the Agrigento Prosecutor has to do with it.”
According to an Il Giornale report on Thursday, the message was met with a response from magistrate Luca Palamara, who said: “You are right. But now we must attack.”
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Last year, Palamara was investigated on corruption charges after allegedly taking €40,000 (£36,000/$44,000) from lawyers who were at the centre of another corruption investigation.
During the WhatsApp chat, Auriemma went on to question attacking Salvini’s migrant policies, saying that “everyone thinks like him” and that his move to stop mass migration was popular with the general public.
The chats are just a small sample of the leaked files, according to the newspaper, which added that the content of the messages left members of Salvini’s League speechless.
A group of League MPs petitioned President Sergio Mattarella to investigate the matter, saying: “What was reported by the newspaper is very serious and intolerable: the independence of politics with respect to the judiciary must be preserved.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 16, 2020
Salvini sent a letter to the Italian president on Thursday and published its contents on his Facebook page. He stated that he was concerned about judicial impartiality given he faces a potential trial over allegations of kidnapping migrants during his term as interior minister. The hearing is set for October.
“This affects the principle of separation of powers and gives me real concern about the lack of unbiased judgement that affects the outcome of the procedure against me,” he said.
A poll taken in February stated that a plurality of Italians were against Salvini being placed on trial for his actions as interior minister, while pollster Alessandra Ghisleri of Euromedia Research said a trial could help his poll numbers.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 23, 2020