Salvini Migrant Trial Postponed After Leaked Chats and Coronavirus

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The trial of populist Italian Senator Matteo Salvini for allegedly kidnapping migrants has been postponed following leaks of Whatsapp chats between Italian magistrates last week and the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The trial of Senator Salvini was set to begin proceedings in July relating to the Gregoretti affair, in which he is accused of kidnapping migrants aboard the Gregoretti coastguard vessel while serving as the country’s interior minister in July of last year.

Salvini had ordered the craft not to allow the migrants to disembark until the European Union had agreed to relocate the migrants aboard the vessel as part of his anti-mass migration policy that also closed Italian ports to migrant transport NGO ships. The allegation is his actions to protect the Italian nation from immigration amounts to kidnapping.

The hearing has now been postponed until October, according to a Monday report from newspaper La Repubblica, with the judge in the case, Nunzio Sarpietro, blaming the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak for the delay.

“Our roles have been overwhelmed by the lockdown for the coronavirus emergency. There are thousands of postponed trials that take precedence, and I had to postpone the start of the trial that sees Senator Salvini accused in October,” he said.

Salvini has previously expressed concern about impartiality in the case after Whatsapp messages between Italian magistrates Luca Palamara and Paolo Auriemma were leaked last week in which the officials claimed to agree that Salvini’s migrant policies were legal and correct but noted they had to attack him anyway.

“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,” Salvini wrote in a letter to Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Judge Sarpietro, however, dismissed the League leader’s concerns saying: “Don’t worry Senator Salvini, you will have a fair and impartial trial like all citizens. Neither I nor any judge who dealt with this file has anything to do with Palamara. And I agree with him: those interceptions between magistrates are shameful.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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