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Italy: Riace major cleared of ‘aiding and abetting illegal immigration’

The court of Reggio Calabria ruled that the mayor of Riace in Calabria region in Italy Domenico Mimmo Lucano is not guilty of scams, robberies, and ‘marriages of convenience’ for immigration purposes.

The investigation against Lucano was launched in October last year, when Guardia di Finanzia- the police under Italian Ministry of Finance-removed him from the city and placed him under house arrest for alleged ‘aiding and abetting illegal immigration’.

Lucano, who became Riace mayor in 2004, has developed a town-governing model based on welcoming migrating people while trying to solve two issues occurring in his area: the increasing number of arrivals on Italian shores and the worrying depopulation of his town. In the arrival of migrants, he saw an opportunity to revive his shrinking municipality of about 900 inhabitants. His policies have proven hugely effective in terms of urban renewal and socio-economic development.

The Riace model, or, as many knew it, the “town of solidarity” has turned the town from an almost inhabited “ghost-town” in one of the more impoverished parts of Italy into a vibrant city with thriving economy. The model, along with welcoming new arrivals to Italy into town and its economy, included creating workshops in abandoned homes, providing work training, language classes and creation of local currency.

Shortly before Lucano’s arrest and removal, 400 of the town’s population of 2000 were recent migrants, and Riace has welcomed at least 6000 migrants since 1998, when a boat with Kurdish refugees landed nearby. Riace had been considered a fully functional model of reception and integration.

The Race model has been an eyesore for Italy’s far right anti-immigration central government and persecution of the town’s mayor was widely considered as political.

Following Lucano’s arrest, many people were forced to leave Riace, or were transferred. Today, only about forty migrants and refugees are housed by the city.

Source: Are You Syrious

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