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Matteo Salvini. Photo supplied

Gregoretti trial: Salvini says he is ‘ready for prison’

"In order to remain free, one must, at a good moment, take the way to prison without hesitation". Before today's vote on the case of the Gregoretti ship, League party leader Matteo Salvini quoted Italian humorist Giovannino Guareschi.

Published: January 20, 2020, 12:17 pm

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    On the May 26, 1954 Guareschi was imprisoned in Parma, charged with libel after he published two letters from resistance leader and former Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi requesting that the Allies bomb Rome.

    “Today, they probably decide to send me to trial because I defended the borders of my country and I go to trial with my head held high,” Salvini told the media.

    Today’s vote in the council will be an arm wrestling that will continue until the last minute. Salvini said he was ready to face jail and to do it with the same spirit as Guareschi. This is the sense of the post published this morning on Facebook, recalling the 409 days spent in the cell by the writer when on April 15, 1954 he was convicted of defamation in the press following De Gasperi’s complaint.

    At the time, the object of the dispute had been two letters from 1944 in which the statesman asked the Allies to bomb Rome to push its inhabitants to the insurrection against the Germans. At stake today, will be the former interior minister’s decision not to allow the 131 illegal immigrants in the port of Augusta before the European Union had committed to do its part in redistributing the illegals.

    In the Chamber there are currently not sufficient votes for Salvini to avoid the trial. Hence the reasoning of the League leader to remove the “alibi” from the left and the Five Stars, whose hypocrisy is now obvious. He wants to make sure that the green light for criminal proceedings is given immediately.

    It is an attitude which, together with the renunciation of immunity, many League members consider risky, but which in fact anticipates a fairly obvious outcome of the final vote that will take place in the Chamber.

    The point is that a trial on the affair will only bring to light the failings of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the political leader of the Five Stars Luigi Di Maio.

    As much as the two, who now sit in the same government with the opposition Democratic Party, have blamed the League leader, it is clear that the choices had been widely shared by the whole executive.

    “When he [Conte] is called to testify at the trial, will he say that he did not watch the news?” asked prominent member of the League Giancarlo Giorgetti. “Will you say you didn’t read the newspapers and didn’t know what your interior minister was doing?”

    As absurd as it may seem, Conte and Di Maio have been pretending that the solution adopted for the Gregoretti ship was not a collegial initiative that fell within the perimeter of the executive’s political direction.

    For Giulia Bongiorno, League senator, the majority is developing “something never seen before, a new type of justice”. She added: “They want Salvini to be tried on his own even if the alleged kidnapping took place under the eyes of the world and certainly of the government.”

    This afternoon the vote in the Council could, in fact, end with a draw: five votes in favor (those of the Carroccio) and five against (Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia) since the majority commissioners have decided not to participate in the vote.

    In the meantime, however, Italians regularly stop Salvini on the street and tell him not to give up, Italian daily Il Giornale reported.

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