The former Interior Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, stands on trial on Saturday in Palermo, the Sicilian capital.
The trial is because of Salvini’s efforts in denying the Open Arms migrant rescue ship access to Italy in 2019.
The prosecutors accuse Salvini of abusing authority and depriving liberty after he prevented the Spanish aid ship from docking.
Salvini could spend up to 15 years in prison if the court deems him guilty.
The head of the right-wing Lega Party has collected his political fortunes on the anti-migration pledges.
Salvini was interior minister from June 2018 to September 2019 in the first cabinet of the former PM, Giuseppe Conte.
“A list of more than two dozen witnesses to testify in this trial,” said Al-Jazeera’s correspondent from Rome, Adam Raney.
Raney said, “They are pretty high-profile, including Conte and actor Richard Gere.”
He added that people also expect Salvini to appear in court.
The Open Arms crew had rescued over 150 people from the Mediterranean in August 2019. This was during three interventions from August 1.
The ship moored off of Lampedusa island around mid-August. However, Italian authorities did not give it permission to dock.
The situation escalated as desperate people on board started jumping out of the ship into the water, seeking refuge ashore.
Eventually, the public prosecutor arranged for the vessel to dock following a full onboard inspection.
Salvini stressed repeatedly that his actions were in defense of Italy and the government’s interests.
His trial started formally on September 15 but was immediately delayed to October 23.
Salvini is also under investigation for similar situations involving the Italian coastguard ship, Gregoretti.
He denied the ship permission to dock in Italy in 2019.