Italian populists ask if minister deserves immunity

Italy's populist 5-Star Movement, which is part of the country's ruling coalition, is asking its supporters to vote online on whether the leader of its junior coalition partner should be prosecuted.

The Senate's immunity panel votes this week to recommend if Sicily-based magistrates should prosecute anti-migrant League party leader Matteo Salvini. As interior minister, Salvini is under investigating for alleged kidnapping for refusing for days in 2018 to let migrants rescued at sea disembark at a Sicilian port from an Italian coast guard ship.

The 5-Stars members are in a bind. As an anti-establishment force, on principle it considers parliamentary immunity an "elite" privilege. But if their lawmakers vote to lift Salvini's immunity, that risks worsening a rift in the government with the League.

So the 5-Stars are sounding out supporters.