Salvini is accused of illegally detaining migrants at sea as then-interior minister when he blocked more than 100 people from disembarking from the
Italian Gregoretti coastguard boat in July 2019.
His conduct “does not amount to the crime of kidnapping” and “there is no case to answer,” prosecutor Andrea Bonomo said in a pre-trial hearing in
Catania, Sicily, the ANSA news agency reported.
According to Bonomo, the leader of the anti-immigration League party “did not breach any international convention” in his treatment of the migrants, and acted with the support of his government.
Pre-trial judge Nunzio Sarpietro is expected to rule on May 14 whether to drop the case or order a trial in which Salvini would face a maximum sentence of 15 years if convicted. The migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean on July 25, 2019, after five days at sea.
They were transferred to the Gregoretti the next day, then held on the overcrowded patrol vessel under the fierce summer sun despite a scabies
outbreak and a suspected case of tuberculosis.
Fifteen unaccompanied minors were eventually allowed off on July 29 following pressure from Catania’s juvenile court. The remaining 116 migrants
disembarked on July 31 after Salvini said a deal had been brokered with EU countries to take some of them.
Salvini lost the interior minister job in August 2019, after the collapse of the ruling coalition between the League and the formerly anti-establishment
Five Star Movement (M5S). After more than a year in opposition, his party is now part of the national unity government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, installed in February, but Salvini has no ministerial role.
The League leader is facing a second migrant abuse case, with ongoing pre-trial hearings in Palermo, over his refusal to allow around 100 migrants
held on the Open Arms ship to land in Italy in August 2019. In those proceedings, another prosecutor called last month for Salvini to be sent to trial.