Feb. 19 (UPI) -- An Italian Senate committee voted Tuesday not to allow a criminal case against Matteo Salvini, interior minister and deputy prime minister, for preventing migrants from disembarking from a docked rescue ship over the summer.
The immunity committee declined prosecutors' request to bring charges against Salvini for kidnapping. Officials in Catania sought to prosecute him for refusing to allow the migrants from disembarking from the Diciotti rescue ship for five days in August.
The far-right League Party leader called for immunity against the charges, saying he was working in the best interests of Italians when he issued the order to prevent the ship from docking.
"I would have accepted any response, aware of the fact that what I'm doing and we're doing we do so [for] the benefit of our country," Salvini said.
"For me, first comes the defense of borders and the security of my people and so I worked calmly yesterday and I work calmly today."
Eventually, the Catholic church, Ireland and Albania agreed to receive the mostly Eritrean passengers.
Coalition partner Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement, offered support to Salvini and said his order was on behalf of the government as a whole.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Five Star Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli were also put under investigation for rejecting the migrants.