Italy’s Salvini faces investigation over ‘misuse’ of police aircraft

Italy's Salvini faces investigation over 'misuse' of police aircraft
Italian League party leader and former government minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: AFP
The head of Italy's far-right League, Matteo Salvini, could be investigated for the alleged unauthorised use of service aircraft for party business while he was a cabinet minister, Italian media reported on Thursday.

The state prosecutor in Rome has sent documents to a tribunal charged with monitoring public finances concerning 35 flights Salvini took while deputy prime minister and interior minister, according to the Corriere della Sera.

The prosecutor has asked the court to determine whether the flights on police and firefighters' planes and helicopters constituted an abuse of office.

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According to a recent investigation by La Repubblica, Salvini often scheduled official state trips within Italy just before or after rallies for the League.

“I can't wait to go in front of the courts,” Salvini said when asked about the report at a news conference on Thursday.

The prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Italy's audit court had earlier opened, then shelved in September, an investigation on financial grounds, arguing that the cost of the trips did not appear to be higher than what would normally have been authorised.

Still, the court considered the flights illegal because Italian law stipulates that police and firefighting aircraft should be used exclusively for institutional use and not by state ministers.

Matteo Salvini (centre) frequently wore the uniforms of the Italian police and fire brigade while in office, and is alleged to have misused their aircraft. Photo: Matteo Salvini/Twitter

Only the five highest members of state — the president, the two parliament speakers, the prime minister and the head of the constitutional court – are legally allowed to use such aircraft.

Exceptions most be specially authorised, which was not the case for Salvini.

He is also reported to have ordered police and firefighters to remove banners protesting against his League party while he was serving as Minister of the Interior, responsible for the Italian police force and fire service.

Salvini is currently embroiled in other judicial affairs, including alleged links between the League and Russia, and a decades-long corruption scandal involving the party, for which a court has confiscated 49 million euros.

READ ALSO: Salvini denies the League sought funding from Russia


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