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Italian politician ‘happy’ if migrant boat sinks

Italian politician ‘happy’ if migrant boat sinks
Erminio Boso was responding to Pope Francis's visit to Lampedusa on Monday. Photo: Osservatore Romano/AFP

A former senator and member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party told Italian radio that he would be happy if a migrant boat sank. His comments follow a visit by Pope Francis to the island of Lampedusa on Monday.

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Erminio Boso made the comments on Radio 24 earlier this week, after the Pope held a mass in Lampedusa for migrants that have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean.

The Pope said he had chosen to visit the island “to reawaken consciences” and urged “brotherly responsibility” for migrants.

In response, Boso said: “I am happy if a boat sinks...I don’t give a damn about what the Pope has done.”

“I defend my family and my land,” the 68-year-old from South Tyrol continued, blaming migrants for violence.

Forty people have died so far in 2013 on the journey from north Africa to Europe, according to estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A further 500 migrants were reported dead or missing last year.

Around 4,000 migrants have arrived in Lampedusa this year, tripple the amount that arrived during the same period in 2012. 

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