ROME – Italy’s former interior minister Matteo Salvini said on Thursday he was confident he would not be convicted of kidnapping in a trial related to his controversial policies blocking migrants from disembarking from a ship for several days last year.
The firebrand populist offered a press conference a day after senators stripped him of his parliamentary immunity to face the charges.
“I did my duty without fear,” the leader of the far-right League party said. “The defense of the homeland is a civil duty and even more so when you are a minister.”
Salvini will face charges of kidnapping and abuse of power over his decision to prohibit 131 migrants on an Italian coastguard ship from disembarking on Italian soil for five days in July.
He was interior minister at the time in the now-defunct coalition government with the Five Star Movement (M5S).
Salvini, who is now a senator, said he would closely follow developments “without fear or concern.”
He said he was confident he would not be convicted, adding he would trust in a constitutional article on the duty of an Italian citizen to defend the country.
The politician took questions from a group of international journalists for more than half an hour on Thursday.
He said he believed the current coalition government, shared between the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and his former M5S colleagues would soon collapse, leading to fresh elections this year.
Salvini defended his closed port policy during his time as chief of Italy’s domestic affairs.
The senate committee on 20 January recommended Salvini’s immunity be lifted and the former interior minister went on to urge his party to vote in favor of going to trial.
Observers saw his apparently self-destructive advice as a political gimmick to shore up support before regional elections in Emilia-Romagna, which his party went on to lose to the PD.
Addressing the topic on Thursday, Salvini said: “It was a difficult game, the left has been ruling there for 70 years.”