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Italian leader loses immunity, faces trial

Agence France-Presse

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Salvini. AFP

ROME, Italy (AFP) — Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini is to stand trial on charges of illegally detaining migrants at sea, after senators voted Wednesday to strip him of his parliamentary immunity.

A court in Sicily recommended that former interior minister Salvini stand trial for blocking migrants from disembarking from a coast guard boat last July.

But ministers cannot be tried for actions taken while in office unless their parliamentary immunity is revoked.

The Senate voted 152-76 in favor of removing the legal protection that had shielded the chief of the anti-immigrant League party, giving magistrates the go-ahead to charge him with abuse of power and illegal detention.

The former deputy premier faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty. A conviction could also bar him from political office.

“I have defended Italy. I have full and total faith in the justice system,” Salvini said after the vote.

“I am not worried at all, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” he said, adding he would “do it again when I get back into power.”

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