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Resume migrant 'push-back' policy says ex-minister

Napolitano 'called for stopping boats' claims Maroni

03 October, 16:03
Resume migrant 'push-back' policy says ex-minister (ANSA) - Rome, October 3 - Former interior minister Roberto Maroni said Italy should resume a controversial policy of turning migrant boats back to Africa to avert disasters like Thursday's wreck of a craft carrying 500 people off the stepping-stone island of Lampedusa.

The toll from the Somali and Eritrean asylum-seeker disaster was approaching 100 with around 150 survivors and 250 missing in the worst incident for years.

Maroni, leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, said Italy's former 'push-back' policy to late dictator Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, criticised by human-rights groups, had been effective in stopping people smugglers. He said President Giorgio Napolitano's appeal for a crackdown on trafficking was a call for "guarding the coasts the illegals leave from".

"That's what I did when I was a minister: turn back the boats and save lives".