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Italian pro-refugee mayor under house arrest for allegedly aiding illegal migration

Staff Writer | October 4, 2018
The mayor of an Italian town which has been known for integrating refugees was put under house arrest on Tuesday for allegedly favoring illegal migration.
Domenico Lucano
Europe   Domenico Lucano
Domenico Lucano, the mayor of southern Italian town Riace, was also accused of organizing "marriages of convenience" between local men and foreign women and setting up systems aimed at bypassing rules for migrants to be allowed to live in Italy. His partner Tesfahun Lemlem faces the same accusations.

Writer Roberto Saviano said on Twitter that Lucano was guilty only of "disobeying and saving human lives and welcoming migrants," as Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced a decree last week to cut funds for migrant reception and integration.

Gioacchino Criaco, another writer who knows Lucano well, supported the mayor. "Efficiency and humanity are not welcomed in a cynical system. This is a system that only takes consensus from politics of fear," he said. "Administrators often find themselves caught in a dilemma between a humanitarian choice and a legal one."

Lucano also received support from Riace locals who called on each other to rally together.

Lucano has been the mayor of Riace since 2002. He carried the migrant integration project to repopulate and revive the economy of the poor town. In 2016, he was listed by Fortune as one of the 50 greatest leaders in the world for making Riace an example of good integration.

According to media reports, about two thirds of the over 3,000 citizens of Riace are immigrants.