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Migrants entering the EU. Photo supplied

Court dismisses probe into Salvini ‘kidnapping’ migrants

The Catania probe into Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for allegedly kidnapping migrants aboard the Sea-Watch3 NGO rescue ship in January has been shelved, Salvini said on Friday.

Published: June 24, 2019, 12:46 pm

    Rome

    The Catania court found that the Sea-Watch 3 vessel had “entered Italian waters unilaterally”.

    “It wasn’t a kidnapping but simply a request for order and rules, good!”, Salvini remarked. He has closed Italy’s ports to NGO-run migrant rescue ships.

    “Trials and investigations don’t scare me, but I’m happy that the magistracy, too, confirms that we can close the ports to pirate ships. I’ll continue to defend the borders”.

    The cases against Premier Giuseppe Conte, Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who had stood in solidarity with Salvini, were also dismissed.

    Salvini meanwhile said he would hold the Netherlands and the European Union “responsible” for the fate of yet another group of 42 migrants that Rome has blocked from disembarking.

    For more than a week, the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3 has been drifting in the Mediterranean after picking up 53 migrants from an inflatable raft off the coast of Libya on June 12.

    Reuters reported that the vessel has been denied permission to dock in Italy, and only 11 people in need of urgent medical attention have been allowed to disembark — including two pregnant women.

    The crew is refusing to return the migrants to Libya. On Sunday Salvini confirmed that he had informed his counterpart in the Netherlands. “I am surprised because they are not interested in a boat that is flying their flag … and has been floating in the open sea for 11 days now,” he said in a statement.

    “We will hold the government of the Netherlands and the European Union, distant and absent as usual, responsible for all that happens to the women and men on board the Sea-Watch,” Salvini added.

    Italy has received no response from Dutch authorities, said Salvini. “An intervention on your side is necessary and urgent,” said Salvini.

    The vessel is operated by German aid group Sea-Watch. While Italy and Malta insist on the fair distribution of migrants to other EU countries, France has refused saying migrants should disembark at the closest port and then be voluntarily redistributed.

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