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Richard Gere to testify at Italian migrant trial

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Hollywood actor Richard Gere is scheduled to testify as a witness in an upcoming kidnapping trial in Italy.

Former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, now leader of the country’s right-wing League party, faces kidnapping charges for refusing to allow a ship full of migrants to disembark in the country two years ago. The migrants were stranded off the coast of Sicily for 19 days.

The “American Gigolo” actor was in Italy at the time, working as an activist with the Spanish non-governmental organization Proactiva Open Arms, which provided food and medical care to the migrants on board the ship.

Actor Richard Gere, right, talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it cruises in the Mediterranean Sea
Actor Richard Gere, right, talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it cruises in the Mediterranean Sea.
AP Photo/Valerio Nicolosi

Other witnesses approved by the Palermo court Saturday include Italy’s former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as well as a host of senior Italian politicians.

“Now you tell me how serious is a trial where Richard Gere comes from Hollywood to testify on how bad I am,” Salvini said.

U.S. actor Richard Gere helps to carry supplies aboard Open Arms rescue boat at Mediterranean sea
Gere helps out on the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat.
REUTERS

Proactiva Open Arms told the court Gere could give a direct account of the conditions on board the vessel, which was stranded off the Italian island of Lampedusa for 19 days before prosecutors ordered the evacuation of the people on board, Reuters reported.

Gere talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat.
Gere talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat.
AP

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