Italy’s migrant policy was reportedly the issue that enraged a Senegalese native enough to hijack a bus filled with over 50 students and then set fire to the vehicle.
The 47-year-old bus driver, a citizen of Italy who is originally from Senegal, allegedly hijacked the bus with 51 middle school children aboard as well as their chaperones on Wednesday, saying he wanted to kill himself and “stop the deaths in the Mediterranean,” ANSA reported.
“No one will survive,” Ousseynou Sy allegedly said, according to Carabinieri Provincial Commander Luca De Marchis.
The driver, who reportedly has a criminal record, took the bus in the Cremona province, about 25 miles from Milan, and drove for nearly an hour before being intercepted by a roadblock – which he tried to run through – set up by authorities following information provided by an adult and a student who called a parent.
“He wanted to get to the runway at (Milan’s) Linate (airport),” a girl told ANSA. “He handcuffed us and threatened us. He said that if we moved he would pour our the petrol and light the fire. He kept saying that people in Africa are dying and the fault is Di Maio and Salvini’s.”
According to ANSA:
Luigi Di Maio, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement leader, and Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant Euroskeptic League, are the two partners in Italy’s populist government which has closed Italy’s ports to migrant rescue NGO ships amid a broader crackdown on migrants.
“We knew him,” a teacher said of the driver who reportedly worked for the bus company for 15 years without incident.
“We were all very afraid because the driver had emptied the gas canister onto the floor (of the bus.) He tied us up and took all the telephones so we could not call the police,” one student said in an interview with La Repubblica TV.
“One of the telephones, belonging to a classmate, fell to the ground, so I pulled off the handcuffs, hurting myself a bit, and went and picked it up. We called the Carabinieri and the police,” the student added.
Even after authorities were able to stop the bus, however, the passengers were not safe as the driver set it ablaze when he stepped out, having already allegedly poured gasoline inside the vehicle. Officers broke the glass in the back door of the bus to make a way for the passengers to escape as the entire vehicle was engulfed in flames.
“While two officers kept the driver busy — he took a lighter and threatened to set fire to the vehicle with a gasoline canister on board — the others forced open the back door,” De Marchis told Sky24TV.
The driver, who reportedly lived in Cremona and is married with two children, was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation along with two adults and a dozen schoolchildren, according to ANSA.
“Investigators must clarify how the transport company permitted such a delinquent to drive a bus, especially one carrying children,” Milan provincial security official Riccardo De Corato said, according to The Sun.
The driver faces potential charges of kidnapping, attempted mass murder, causing a fire and resisting arrest, according to officials. A charge of terrorism may also be added.
The Italian government has implemented stricter immigration policies in recent months with the incoming populist Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, whom many have likened to President Donald Trump for his “Italians First” approach. He refused to allow ships carrying rescued migrants to dock in Italy and has cracked down on illegal immigration with strict new policies that have been welcomed by many in his nation, where Trump is apparently quite popular.
Italians love Trump: Italy flaunts emperor float adorned in golden armor and a killer nickname https://t.co/9jOKbbY23M
— TRUMP USA ?? (@MADE__USA) February 10, 2019
Italy’s senate voted Wednesday that Salvini could not be tried in a criminal case for not allowing 177 asylum seekers to disembark an Italian coastguard ship last year, according to The Guardian, which reported that 232 senators voted to protect the deputy prime minister.
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