Thursday, January 20

The trial against Salvini for blocking the Open Arms begins, with Richard Gere and Colau as witnesses

Correspondent in Rome



With a certain staging, the process against the líder de la Liga, Matteo Salvini, accused of kidnapping people and denying official documents, by not allowing 147 immigrants from the Spanish ship Open Arms to disembark on the island of Lampedusa, between August 14 and 20, 2019, when he was Minister of the Interior.

The first hearing was held in the fully armored bunker classroom of the Pagliarelli prison in Palermo (Sicily). Salvini, who arrived accompanied by his lawyer, the former minister Giulia Bongiorno, declared his respect for the law: “We have respected international conventions, regardless of the policy, people rescued at sea must be saved.” For its part, Oscar Camps, founder of Open Arms and who would have among his witnesses the mayor Ada Colau, He showed his satisfaction at the start of the trial: «We are here to obtain justice. Ensuring a safe harbor is not a political choice, but one of humanity.

The first hearing has been dedicated to admitting the documents and evidence, as well as all the witnesses proposed by the prosecution, the defense and the civil parties. Very long is the list of witnesses, starting with the Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese, various former ministers and the former head of government, Giuseppe Conte. In the cast of witnesses, the American actor Richard Gere It is the most striking and surprising name, proposed by the civilian part of Open Arms, so that you can tell about your experience on board the ship. Gere was on vacation in Tuscany and traveled to Lampedusa, climbing the Open Armas when it was blocked off the island, on a humanitarian mission to ask that the immigrants be allowed to disembark. The prosecution opposed the presence of Richard Gere as a witness to prevent the trial from becoming a spectacle: “Beyond the solidarity and entertainment aspects, we honestly do not think that Richard Gere’s testimony can make a decisive contribution to this process, “said the prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi. Matteo Salvini was also perplexed, who commented: «But, do you think a trial in which Richard Gere from Hollywood will come? Normally, on Saturday morning I am with my children.

Richard Gere, when he visited and brought food to immigrants locked in the Open Arms, in 2019
Richard Gere, when he visited and brought food to immigrants blocked in the Open Arms, in 2019 – EFE

If found guilty, Salvini could be sentenced to a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. But the leader of the League is confident of acquittal, as happened in a similar case. Last May, the Court of Catania (Sicily) ruled that there was no evidence of a crime when Matteo Salvini prevented the disembarkation of 131 immigrants from the Gregoretti military Navy ship at the end of July 2019.

The trial started this Saturday was postponed to December 17 for the examination of the first three witnesses of the Prosecutor’s Office.

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