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  • Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini during a major rally of European nationalist and far-right parties ahead of EU parliamentary elections in Milan, Italy May 18, 2019.

    Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini during a major rally of European nationalist and far-right parties ahead of EU parliamentary elections in Milan, Italy May 18, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 May 2019

Since coming into power six months ago Salvini has several times denied access to boats on the Mediterranean Sea filled with asylum seekers

Italian prosecutors have ordered the seizure of a rescue boat anchored outside the port of Lampedusa in Sicily, triggering a potential tug-of-war with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini who has implemented various measures to stop the migrants from disembarking.

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Tax police officers have boarded Sea Watch 3 to seize the vessel, the websites of several Italian dailies reported, adding the move would eventually open the way for the 47 immigrants on board to disembark.

Sources at the interior ministry, which is headed by Salvini, criticized the prosecutors’ move, adding the minister was still opposed to the migrants disembarking from what he considers an “illegal ship.”

Last December, a recent bill was passed into law, taking Salvini and his nationalist Lega Nord coalition one step closer to fulfilling a campaign promise to deport the over half a million “illegal immigrants” residing in the European country.

Asylum seekers fleeing persecution and extreme exploitation in African and Middle Eastern countries in the Mediterranean Sea, saying that Italy ‘has done enough’ to take in refugees.

Some 640,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since 2014, mainly from Syria, Iraq, and Nigeria. Germany took in well over 123,000 refugees in 2017 alone.

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