Actor Richard Gere will be heard as a witness in the Open Arms trial against Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Matteo Salvini on October 6th, judicial sources said on Friday.
Salvini is on trial in Palermo for alleged abduction and refusal to perform official duties. This was after preventing around 150 migrants and refugees on board a rescue ship operated by Spanish NGO Open Arms from disembarking in August 2019. At the time he was interior minister, and championed a closed-ports policy.
Gere will be asked to give evidence in relation to the condition of the people on board the Open Arms.
The actor, who was holidaying in Italy, rented a boat and went out to the ship on August 9, 2019. He wanted to assess the state of health of the rescued migrants and refugees. He also delivered food and water.
The Open Arms spent almost three weeks at sea after Salvini refused to allow it to dock on Lampedusa. Salvini is leader of the right-wing League,
The Deputy PM has said he acted to defend Italy’s borders. Furthermore, he argues, it was in accordance with a policy agreed by the government of the day.
He has also said the trial is politically motivated.