Salvini Trial for Stopping Migrant Ship Hears First Witness Testimony

Italian Federal Secretary of Lega party and former Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini applauds as he attends the closing ceremony of the third Chega National Congress in Coimbra, on May 30, 2021. (Photo by PEDRO ROCHA / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO ROCHA/AFP via Getty Images)
PEDRO ROCHA/AFP via Getty Images

The first witnesses in the trial of former Italian deputy prime minister and minister of the interior Matteo Salvini have been heard, with Admiral Sergio Liardo claiming that Salvini was not alone in responsibility for blocking an NGO migrant taxi in 2019.

Senator Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League (Lega) party, is currently on trial for kidnapping because he denied a vessel of the migrant taxi NGO Open Arms permission to dock in an Italian port in August of 2019, leaving the ship stranded for around three weeks.

This week, the first witnesses were heard in the case, including Admiral Sergio Liardo, who stated that Salvini did not act alone and that the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Infrastructure bore some responsibility as well.

Liardo noted that the decree prohibiting the NGO vessel from Italian ports had been signed by Salvini’s Interior Ministry as well as the Ministries of Defence and Infrastructure, Il Giornale reports.

The admiral also noted that Spain had offered a place of safety (pos) as the ship flew the flag of Spain at the time: “The navigation to Spain would have lasted four days, there were numerous people on board. But you could ask for assistance,” Liardo said.

The trial of Salvini began in October and the League leader could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The case is the second accusation of kidnapping against Salvini, who closed Italian ports to migrant taxi NGOs and so greatly reduced the number of illegal migrants coming to Italy — and those drowning in the Mediterranean Sea — while the League was in coalition with the Five Star Movement (M5S).

The second case, which involved the Italian coastguard vessel Greggoretti, was not pursued by Italian prosecutors, who dropped the case in April of this year. Prosecutor Andrea Bonomo stated there was no reason to put Salvini on trial in the case.

According to Il Giornale, Salvini’s lawyer has referenced the similarity between the two cases as par tof the strategy for Salvini’s defence.

Since Salvini left government in 2019 Italy has seen a substantial rise in illegal migrant arrivals, with some reports claiming the number has increased by as much as 673 per cent.

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


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