An outspoken human rights advocate should go back to California, a former politician said on Sept. 26.
Richard Gere has no place testifying against the former Italian interior minister in an illegal alien trial. This is the opinion of defendant Matteo Salvini.
Salvini became outraged after learning the Hollywood veteran would oppose him in the so-called “Open Arms case.” The League nationalist party leader is accused of illegally blocking 147 migrants at sea when he was interior minister back in 2019.
Asylum seekers were allegedly banned from disembarking the Spanish NGO Open Arms rescue vessel for six days, until the prosecutor’s office intervened.
“Richard Gere will testify against me at the Open Arms trial on October 23 in Palermo,” the former politician said according to Ansa news agency. “I do not understand what kind of lessons he wants to give me in Italy and to Italians, about our laws.”
Salvini admits the actor has a good reputation in the film industry, and will ask for an autograph on behalf of his mother. However, the courtroom is no place to dramatize unlawful border crossing.
“If someone wants to turn the trial into a show and wants to see Richard Gere, let him go to the cinema, not to a court,” he said according to the publication.
Salvini vigorously rejects the allegations. He claims his “closed ports” policy was in the national interest and successfully discouraged migrants from embarking on African shores towards a dangerous Mediterranean crossing.
The Italian Senate previously voted to remove the former interior minister’s parliamentary immunity to let the matter proceed to trial back in 2020.
The trial was set to begin on Sept. 15. However, the date was postponed until Oct. 23. Twenty-three civil parties are represented in the matter, including nine migrants who were aboard.
A Catania court previously dismissed a similar case in which Salvini allegedly blocked other migrants from entering Italy, and holding them at sea on an Italian coast guard vessel.
Salvini argued on several occasions the government approved his migration policy. This includes former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, according to Breitbart.
He was part of the League and 5 Star Movement coalition government, and even served as deputy prime minister during his time in federal politics.