Richard Gere to Testify Against Italy's Former Deputy PM

Matteo Salvini faces trial over refusal to let migrant ship dock in 2019
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2021 1:50 PM CDT
Richard Gere to Testify in Italy Migrant Ship Case
Richard Gere talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it cruises in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.   (AP Photo/Valerio Nicolosi)

Italy's former deputy prime minister is going on trial for refusing to let a Spanish ship carrying rescued migrants dock at an Italian port—and Richard Gere has agreed to testify against him. The actor was on vacation in Italy with his family in August 2019 when he heard about the standoff, the Guardian reports. He traveled to the island of Lampedusa to support the Open Arms charity and helped deliver food and water to the migrants. He compared then-Deputy PM Matteo Salvini to then-President Donald Trump and accused him of "demonizing" migrants, per the BBC. Salvini said Gere should take the 160 migrants back to Hollywood with him.

Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, is accused of abducting the migrants, who were stranded at sea for 19 days until a judge stepped in. Gere was on a list of two dozen witnesses submitted ahead of trial by Open Arms. Salvini says he was acting to protect Italy's borders and the trial is politically motivated. "I know him as an actor, but I don’t understand what kind of lessons he wants to give me or the Italians on our laws," he said of Gere, per ANSA. He added: "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." (More Richard Gere stories.)

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