Italy’s hard-line interior minister Matteo Salvini has threatened legal action after 47 migrants rescued at sea landed on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, despite an explicit ban.
The German aid group Sea-Watch said the 47 migrants were transferred to Lampedusa with the co-operation of the Italian Coast Guard and financial police.
They were among 65 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya by the humanitarian aid group last week.
Mr Salvini had given permission for 18 migrants – mostly families with young children – to be brought to land on Friday. But he told a campaign rally that the rest would not be allowed into Italy as long as he remained in his post.
The minister reacted angrily to the transfer of the remaining 47, saying on Facebook that if “there was a ploy to disembark the migrants, I will take action, because that is aiding and abetting human trafficking”.
Mr Salvini pledged that the vessel, the Sea-Watch 3, would be confiscated and threatened the ship’s crew with arrest, referring to them as “deputy human traffickers”.
He also questioned whether the transport minister, who is in charge of the Coast Guard, or the economy minister, with responsibility for the financial police, had given their approval for the move.
The transport minister belongs to the populist 5-Star Movement, which is in a government coalition with Mr Salvini’s right-wing League party, while Italy’s economy minister is not aligned with either ruling party.