Senators in Italy voted on Wednesday to lift immunity for far-right leader Matteo Salvini, opening the way for a potentially career-ending trial over accusations that he illegally detained migrants at sea last year.

The result of the vote was due to be formally announced about 18:00 GMT, but a Reuters news agency's tally, as the count progressed, showed a majority in favour of removing the legal protection that had shielded Salvini as a former cabinet minister.

The decision gives magistrates in Sicily the go-ahead to press charges over his decision to keep more than 100 migrants blocked on board a coastguard ship for six days last July as he waited for other European Union states to agree to take them in.

Salvini, the head of Italy's League party who was serving as interior minister at the time, could eventually face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty at the end of Italy's tortuous legal process. A conviction could also bar him from political office, dashing his ambitions to lead a future government.

Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull reports.