March 31, 2018 / 3:49 PM / a year ago

Italy summons French ambassador over border incident

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned the French ambassador to explain why armed French border police entered a clinic run by a non-governmental organisation that cares for migrants trying to cross the Alps, a ministry source said.

The incident prompted anger among many politicians, some of whom saw it as a violation of Italian territory.

The NGO, Rainbow for Africa, said it happened on Friday evening when the French brought a Nigerian migrant to the railway station of the Italian border town of Bardonecchia.

The NGO said they entered the clinic, which is in the train station, and demanded that the personnel conduct a urine test on the man because they suspected him of drug trafficking.

In their account of the incident, French customs said they had the written consent of the man for the test and the NGO had also given them permission to use the facilities for it. The test was negative.

French customs said they had followed regulations and were ready to clarify with the Italians any legal and operational procedures to avoid future incidents.

Massimiliano Fedriga of the right-wing League, which made big gains in the March 4 election, said the French had made Italy look like “the laughing stock of Europe”.

“French police do whatever they want on Italian territory without being disturbed, as if they are at home. What happened in Bardonecchia is grave and shows how our so-called friends in Europe have little or no consideration for us,” he said in a statement.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas in Paris; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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