Italy Lets Vatican Take Stranded Migrants, Salvini Under Investigation For ‘Kidnapping And Illegal Arrest’

Sunday, August 26, 2018
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Sun, 08/26/2018

Italy on Sunday allowed all 150 migrants from a NGO rescue ship to disembark after docking for five days at a Sicilian port – ending a standoff between Rome’s populist coalition government and European Union partners, reports Reuters.

The migrants, mainly from Eritrea, had been stranded in the port of Catania since Monday because the government refused to let them off the boat until other EU states agreed to take some of them in.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Albania had offered to accept 20 of the migrants and Ireland 20-25, while the rest would be housed by Italy’s Catholic Church “at zero cost” to the Italian taxpayer. -Reuters

“The church has opened its heart and opened its wallet,” said Salvini at a Saturday evening rally in the Northern Italian town of Pinzolo.

Salivini – who has spearheaded Italy’s crackdown on illegal immigration beginning in June, also announced that he is currently under investigation by a Sicilian prosecutor for “abuse of office, kidnapping and illegal arrest.”

“Being investigated for defending the rights of Italians is a disgrace,” he said.

The United Nations called for “reason from all sides” on Saturday following a meeting of envoys from 10 European Union member states, after the Friday meeting failed to break the deadlock.

“Frightened people who may be in need of international protection should not be caught in the maelstrom of politics,” the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said in a statement.

The agency appealed to EU member states to “urgently” offer relocation places to the rescued people, in line with an agreement at an EU summit in June, and in the meantime, urged Italy to allow “the immediate disembarkation of those on board.”

Rome had refused to back down, despite criticism from rights groups and the opposition, with Salvini saying he considered the attacks he received to be a “badge of honor.” -Reuters

At the end of the day, Albania, Ireland and the Catholic Church agreed to take the migrants, while Italy’s Foreign Ministry called Albania’s offer “a signal of great solidarity and friendship that Italy greatly appreciates.”

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