A judge in the Sicilian city of Catania ruled on Friday (May 14) that the head of Italy's right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, should not stand trial over allegations he kidnapped a group of migrants by refusing to let them disembark from a ship.
The case is centered on an incident in July 2019, when Salvini, who was then the country's interior minister, blocked more than 100 people aboard the Gregoretti coastguard ship for six days as he waited for European allies to agree to resettle them.
During his 14 months as interior minister, he stopped several boats from docking in Italy in an effort to halt migrant flows, and regularly accused the charities that operated them of effectively encouraging people smuggling.
The Catania case is similar to a separate investigation in the Sicilian capital Palermo over migrants who were kept aboard another boat a month after the Gregoretti incident.
However, in a completely contrasting decision, a judge in Palermo last month ordered that Salvini should stand trial over the allegations.
He could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
The trial will begin in Palermo on September 15.
Prosecutors in Catania had asked the judge not to send Salvini to trial, saying his decision did not violate international treaties and was not to be considered kidnapping.