The Italian Senate last week paved the way for a criminal case against populist leader Matteo Salvini for leaving 131 migrants stranded at sea. The former interior minister refused to allow the Italian coast guard ship Bruno Gregoretti to dock for more than a week in July 2019. Sen. Gregorio de Falco, a former coast guard commander, called Salvini’s order against the ship “an unnecessary cruelty.” He could face up to 15 years in jail if prosecuted.
Salvini has come under investigation five times in less than two years, including cases on defamation and instigating hatred. On Feb. 27, the Senate immunity panel will hold another vote to decide if he should face trial for accusations of kidnapping 164 migrants on board the rescue ship Open Arms.
Salvini told the Senate he was only carrying out his duty to defend the nation’s borders: “I am proud of what I have done, for my children and for the children of this country. Let’s have a judge decide if I’m a criminal or if I was just doing my job.” —O.O.
The Philippines Justice Department charged two priests and nine others in an alleged plot to overthrow President Rodrigo Duterte, Union of Catholic Asian News reported. The priests, Albert Alejo and Flaviano Villanueva, belong to a missionary group that Duterte considers a communist front.
“The move is obviously meant to scare … these churchmen and eventually silence them,” said Jerome Secillano, chairman of the public affairs office of the Catholic bishops conference. Authorities earlier dropped charges against four Catholic bishops also accused in the plot.
Alejo and Villanueva, who have denied trying to discredit Duterte, posted bond and will face arraignment on March 17, according to Asia News.
“It’s pure harassment and meant to send a chilling message to the others,” Alejo said. —Julia A. Seymour