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Matteo Salvini

Rome freezes Northern League bank accounts in bid to stop Salvini’s rise

Italian Northern League (LN) leader Matteo Salvini said on Friday that he would appeal against a decision by a Genoa court to freeze party funds.

Published: September 18, 2017, 11:04 am

    The anti-immigration leader announced an emergency meeting of the conservative anti-migrant party’s federation council to be held on Monday. “They are trying to get rid of us from television, from radio, from parliament. They are trying to do it in a dirty way,” Salvini said.

    “But they won’t succeed,” Salvini told the LN’s Radio Padania. “In Democracy the citizens decide who wins and who loses with their votes, not an individual judge.

    “I am truly curious to see what President [Sergio Mattarella] will say now”. The move by Rome comes after two convictions over the misuse of party funds, including one involving former LN leader Umberto Bossi.

    The leader of one of Italy’s biggest political parties spoke to reporters at the lower house of parliament, as five of the party’s bank accounts were frozen on Thursday.

    “The magistrates are trying to outlaw a political party,” Salvini said. “They’re trying to stop the advance of the League, which has reached a historic high.”

    The League has had a strong showing in recent polls, about three times higher than in the 2014 European elections. It could easily become the country’s third most-popular party, in a national vote scheduled for early next year.

    Genoa chief prosecutor Francesco Cozzi defended the freeze. “We have the utmost respect for the League and for all the parties,” Cozzi said. “But we have not staged an attack on the Constitution. On the contrary, we moved to protect parliament”.

    Lampedusa migrants, meanwhile, have been condemned by the mayor of the tiny island. Once a symbol for “refugee compassion”, Mayor Salvatore Martello has warned it is descending into anarchy.

    Rome has tried to accuse him of “stoking up fear” and “overstating the problem” because he complained on Sunday that his town was on the verge of societal collapse.

    Mayor Martello said groups of migrants were ignoring laws, harassing women and getting drunk, in an open letter to Italian news agency ANSA’s Italian language service, as well as in comments to Italian news outlets.

    “Threats, harassments, thefts, Lampedusa is about to collapse,” Martello wrote, calling for the closure of the “useless” migrant center on the island. “Police are powerless,” he wrote.

    “The bars are full of Tunisians who are drunk and harass women. I receive tens of messages from frightened tourists, hoteliers, traders and restauranteurs who suffer daily.”

    On Friday, an Italian-Libyan committee chaired by Interior Minister Marco Minniti agreed on an Italian project for a mission on the southern border of Libya, sources said.

    The main thrust of the meeting was to set up a logistical base for border guards to facilitate the presence of United Nations organisations. The committee was tasked with implementing a memorandum signed by the two countries in February.

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