The Italian Senate voted Thursday to lift the immunity of former interior minister Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, paving the way for him to be tried for refusing to allow 164 migrants to get off a ship in Sicily last August.

Salvini’s decision kept the migrants aboard the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms for 20 days, after which it was finally allowed to enter a port on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Public prosecutors have accused him of kidnapping and negligence, but he was protected from facing trial as he has immunity.

“I will go to court with my head held high and my back straight. This is a political trial and if anyone thinks they have weakened me, they are mistaken”, Salvini said ahead of the vote.

In February, the Senate lifted Salvini’s immunity in a similar case involving another blocked ship. A preliminary hearing on that case is scheduled for October 3.


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