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Salvini faces new trial after right-winger’s immunity is stripped in migration row

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Italian senators backed removing the political privileges of the right-wing League leader yesterday in a tight vote. Mr Salvini could now face a trial for allegedly illegally detaining migrants at sea. It’s in relation to a case last year when he refused to let a rescue ship carrying scores of migrants dock at the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The then-interior minister blocked the Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel from docking, leaving it marooned at sea for nearly three weeks.

Mr Salvini insisted the decision to stop the migrants from leaving the ship was reached collectively within the government.

He wanted European Union countries to reach an agreement to take them in.

At the time, his League were in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

Responding to the vote, Mr Salvini said: “Defending Italy is not a crime. I am proud of it, I would do it again, and I will do it again.”

Prosecutors in Sicily accuse him of illegal detention for preventing migrants from disembarking for a rescue ship onto Italian soil, if convicted he could face a jail for upto a term of 15 years.

The Senate voted 149 to 141 to strip him of his parliamentary immunity, paving the way for prosecution.

The League leader is already set to stand trial in a similar case.

In February, the Senate voted to strip him of his parliamentary immunity in a case involving the Italian coastguard.

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte has previously branded Mr Salvini “obsessed” with keeping migrants out of Italian ports.

MUST READ: EU admits it must do more after record English Channel crossings

All the parties in the ruling coalition government backed the lifting of My Salvini’s immunity.

“By sending me for trial they’re giving me a big gift but unlike the others I’m going there with my head held high and my back straight,” Mr Salvini said.

His League party is still the most popular in Italy despite a recent slump in the polls.

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A Demopolis survey this week showed League on 25.4 percent and the centre-left Democratic Party on 21 percent.

Mr Salvini has been stopped from holding rallies because of the coronavirus restrictions to stop the spread of the disease across Italy.

The populist leader has built his reputation by posing for selfies with supports, a move that has endeared him to many Italians.

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