Matteo Salvini formally investigated over migrant standoff

Migrants on board the Italian coast guard vessel the Dictorri were allowed to disembark in Catania five days after the vessel entered the port

Matteo Salvini is being investigated over a possible breach of the European Convention on Human Rights
Matteo Salvini is being investigated over a possible breach of the European Convention on Human Rights

Italy’s Home Affairs minister Matteo Salvini will be formerly investigated over their actions during the latest migration standoff, prosecutors announced on Saturday evening.

Early on Sunday morning Italian authorities allowed a group of 136 migrants, that were being held on the Italian coast guard's vessel the Dicotti, to disembark in Catania, five days after the vessel entered the Sicilian port. Salvini had insisted that the people on board would not be allowed to disembark until there were assurances that they would not remain in Italy.

The Italian government had even threatened to withhold EU fundsif other countries did not take the migrants, however was told by the Commission that threats would not bring the situation closer to a solution.

Salvini relented however after prosecutors announced that he would be formally investigated for holding the people on board the vessel hostage.

Luigi Patronaggio, the chief prosecutor for Agrigento visited the ship and questioned its passengers, while magistrates travelled to Rome to question Salvini.

“I heard prosecutors asked for my details. Here you go. I was born in Milan, March 9 1973, in Milan. I’m ready and proud to be arrested because I’m fighting to defend the Italian border,” Salvini wrote on Facebook as the news emerged about the investigation.

READ MORE: Italian leadership learning that persuasion, not bullying leads to European solidarity – Muscat

It has been claimed that Italy’s decision to keep the migrants on board the Dicotti was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires asylum seekers detained for more than 48 hours to be released and allowed to apply for refugee status.

The migrants, originally 177, were intercepted by the Italian coast guard last week, after crossing through Maltese search and rescue waters. The Maltese government has said that the Armed Forces of Malta had made contact with the migrants who insisted that they were not in need of assistance.

The Italian government said that Albania and Ireland had both agreed to take 20 migrants each, while the remaining 100 would be taken in by the Italian church.

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