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Grillo blasts own M5S lawmakers over migrant vote

Comedian unhappy at move to decriminalise illegal immigration

10 October, 12:59
Grillo blasts own M5S lawmakers over migrant vote (ANSA) - Rome, October 10 - Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), on Thursday publicly chastised the Senators from his group who presented a petition to decriminalise illegal immigration.

The fact that being an undocumented migrant is a criminal offence in Italy has become a major issue after the survivors of last week's migrant-boat disaster off Lampedusa were put under investigation, even though prosecutors said the move was a formal act that did not mean charges would be pressed.

It is feared that as many as 363 people, mostly Somalis and Eritreans, died in the disaster.

On Tuesday the M5S members on the Senate justice committee presented a petition for illegal immigration to be decriminalised in an amendment to another law.

The amendment was approved with the blessing of Premier Enrico Letta's government, although some senior figures, including Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, has expressed doubts about changing the law.

Comedian-turned-politician Grillo, whose movement is the third-biggest group in parliament after its spectacular showing in February's general election, said the M5S Senators on the committee had exceeded their authority.

"Their position on the committee was totally personal, it was not part of our programme," Grillo said on his popular blog, which gave life to the M5S in 2009, in a statement also carrying the name of co-founder Gianroberto Casaleggio.

"We don't agree with what was done nor how it was done.

"No spokesperson (of the movement) can claim to make such an important decision on an issue that causes such deep feeling at the social level without consulting anyone.

"If we had proposed abolishing the crime of illegal immigration, the M5S would have had the vote percentage of a telephone prefix (starting with 0) in the general election".