The Italian Senate lifted the immunity of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in a second trial related to his anti-refugee policy. After a debate lasting several hours, a majority in the smaller chamber of parliament in Rome voted in favor of the lifting on Thursday. The Senate had already made a similar decision in spring in another case against Salvini.

This clears the way for a second trial against the party leader of the radical right-wing Lega because of his politics as a minister until 2019.

The current case is a case of deprivation of liberty and abuse of office before a court in Palermo. Salvini had the private Spanish rescue ship as minister Open Arms blocked at sea with dozens of migrants on board a year ago.

The Lega boss is a senator in the smaller of two Houses of Parliament in Rome. He actually enjoys impunity. But already in February the Senate had revoked its immunity by a majority. Back then it was about blocking the coast guard ship Gregoretti with 131 migrants. According to previous information, this process should start on October 3 in Catania, Sicily.

The number of boat refugees rose sharply in July

Salvini spoke on Thursday of a “political process” and called the “Open Arms” a “pirate ship”. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. In addition, his political activity could be banned at times. Salvini claims to have only done its duty in the interests of the citizens.

Migration is a hot topic in Italy. The number of boat refugees rose sharply in July. So far, Italy has registered around 13,400 migrant arrivals in 2020. In the previous year there had been 3654 in the same period. There are also seven regional elections scheduled for September.