Italy's Salvini ridicules calling of actor Gere to kidnapping trial
Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Italian party League, said a trial in which he is charged with kidnapping for refusing to allow a migrant ship to dock in the country in 2019 is not serious, as actor Richard Gere testified.
The then Italian Interior Minister Salvini appeared on Saturday (23 October) for the second hearing of a trial in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, where the court approved a list of witnesses.
Witnesses include Italy's former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Hollywood actor Richard Gere
Gere was in Italy at the time and joined the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which ran the rescue ship to provide food to the people on board.
Salvini told reporters, "Now tell me how serious is a lawsuit where Richard Gere comes from Hollywood to testify how bad I am."
Proactiva Open Arms told the court Gere could provide a direct report on conditions aboard the ship, which was stranded off the Italian island of Lampedusa for 19 days, before prosecutors ordered the evacuation of the people on board.
It is not clear whether Gere will appear in person to testify at the trial.
Salvini, who built much of his political fortune on an anti-immigration campaign, said he was simply doing his duty as minister.
In addition, defending a country's borders is not just a minister's duty, it is everyone's duty.
Salvini faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty at the end of a long three-stage judicial process.
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Italian journalist and politician
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