Salvini, a senator, says lifting his immunity and being on trial for alleged kidnapping is tantamount to defending Italy from illegal migrants, who the opposition populist leader blames for crime and for taking away jobs from Italians.
Italy has lifted immunity from prosecution for far-right leader Matteo Salvini, paving the way for a trial that could end his career.
The Italian Senate will vote on Wednesday (12 February) whether the far-right leader Matteo Salvini should be brought to court for "kidnapping" 131 migrants previous year, when as the interior minister he prevented them from disembarking but forced them to stay aboard the Gregoretti coastguard ship.
League leader Matteo Salvini
Earlier in January, he advised his League colleagues in the Senate to vote in favour of his indictment, in a stunt that was seen as an attempt to win support before the Emilia Romagna regional election, which he then lost.
Mr Salvini, who won the election on his anti immigrant stance, is accused of illegally keeping 116 people on a boat off the coast of Sicily overseas the ship Gregoretti for close to a week in August 2019.
He was interior minister at the time, and had ordered the closure of all Italian ports to migrant rescue ships. The conviction could also bar him from political office, dashing his ambitions to lead a future government.More news: Gallinari scores 29 points to carry Thunder past Pelicans
The then-interior minister's "closed ports" policy, aimed at stopping migrant arrivals from Libya, saw his popularity numbers shoot up. "We don't have ambitions to be presented as the radical right in Italy", said Salvini, who quit government a year ago and is the de facto opposition leader.
Asked if he was anxious about becoming ineligible for office in the event of a conviction, Salvini said "absolutely not". But under Italian law, former ministers can not be tried for actions undertaken while in office unless parliament authorizes the investigation.
"Clearly there is a message that needs to be calibrated differently (in the cities)", said Salvini, comparing the League's problem to that of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has scored badly in larger urban areas.More news: Coronavirus: China virus toll revised downward after deaths double-counted
Some migrants in need of urgent medical care were taken from the coastguard vessel but 116 of them remained trapped on board for nearly a week. "I have full and total faith in the justice system", Salvini said after the vote.
"I am absolutely calm and proud of what I have done". Similar standoffs played out in the Mediterranean Sea during the anti-immigration stance Salvini took as interior minister.
Salvini also denied that he planned to come to the Lega nel Mondo, a global network of the League established by Salvini in 2018, in Liverpool in March, the Guardian reported.More news: Caught on camera: Man being placed under arrest body slams OH officer