The Italian interior minister on Friday strongly opposed suggestions that the government in Rome should be blamed for allowing a Tunisian migrant accused of killing three people in a Nice church to enter neighboring France.
Brahim Aouissaoui, the suspect in Thursday’s attack in Nice, reached the Italian island of Lampedusa in September and spent two weeks on a quarantine boat. He was later transferred to Bari, on the mainland, and, in early October, was ordered to leave Italy within seven days.
After the Nice attack, Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italian right-wing opposition Lega Nord party and former interior minister, said the government was failing to prevent people arriving from Africa. He lashed out at current Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, claiming she bore responsibility for the killings in the French city, and demanding her resignation.
Responding to the critique, Lamorgese said Aouissaoui had not been flagged as a potential threat by the Tunisian authorities or the Italian intelligence service prior to the attack. “This is an attack on Europe. We have no responsibility in this,” she added.
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The minister said a security decree introduced by Salvini, when he was in her place, had made it harder for the government to deal with migrants. Immigration centers were closed down, and 20,000 people had to leave them overnight, she noted.
Italy’s official data states that more than 27,000 migrants have reached the country by sea so far this year, and 11,195 have come from Tunisia, making it the largest single national group in the statistics.
Lamorgese visited Tunisia in August in a bid to limit the flow of migrants, but then admitted it was difficult, as the African country is facing a major economic crisis, since further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
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