Riace is a town of about 2,300 people in Calabria, a province in southern Italy. The mayor of Riace, Domenico “Mimmo” Lucano, was recently arrested for aiding illegal immigration into his city.
What’s interesting about his case is that prosecutors eventually dropped the charges of corruption, because the mayor wasn’t lining his own pockets; he was simply helping illegal immigrants obtain jobs and benefits illegally.
The first video shows a brief news report about the mayor’s arrest. The second shows the reactions of the African culture-enrichers who benefitted from his largesse. You’ll notice that much of what they say is in broken English.
Below are excerpts from three news articles about the arrest of Mayor Lucano. First, from ANSA:
Riace Mayor Arrested for Aiding Illegal Immigration
Lucano also probed over trash collection
(ANSA) — Riace, October 2 — Riace Mayor Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Lucano was put under house arrest on Tuesday in relation to allegations of aiding illegal immigration, prosecutors said. The arrest warrant, performed by finance police, also referred to alleged wrongdoing over the direct assignment of trash-collection services without a public tender. Lucano’s administration of the town in the southern region of Calabria has been frequently lauded by commentators for the way migrants were integrated into the local community and made a positive contribution to it. He was named among Fortune’s 50 greatest world leaders in 2016.
Lucano’s partner, Tesfahun Lemlem, is accused of the same charges and has been banned from living in the area.
Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant League party, said “ask (pro-migrant writer Robert) Saviano, (pro-migrant campaigner Laura) Boldrini, the champions of out-of-control immigration”.
Saviano replied: “this government is taking the first step towards the definitive transformation of Italy from a democracy into an authoritarian State.
In Mimmo’s actions there is never the goal of money, but civil disobedience”.
Deputy Premier and labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), said “Riace was not a model”, as it had been portrayed.
In the citation for its accolade, Fortune said “though his pro-refugee stance has pitted him against the mafia and the state, Lucano’s model is being studied and adopted as Europe’s refugee crisis crests”.
He placed 40th among the 50 greatest world leaders.
The second is from AP:
Italy Arrests Mayor for Allegedly Aiding Illegal Immigration
MILAN (AP) — The mayor of a small town in southern Italy that became a model for immigrant integration was placed under house arrest Tuesday for allegedly aiding illegal immigration, a move that brought a well-spring of support for the mayor.
Italian financial police arrested the mayor of Riace, Domenico Lucano, as part of an investigation into the allocation of a half-million euros in public funds to house refugees and asylum-seekers.
Authorities said the investigation also is examining allegations that fraudulent associations were set up so immigrants could take over trash disposal contracts and the arranging of marriages of convenience to help female immigrants remain in Italy.
And from ANSA again:
Riace Mayor Says Nabbed for ‘Crime of Humanity’
Brother says ‘more serene, has seen he isn’t alone’
(ANSA) — Riace, October 3 — Riace Mayor Domenico Mimmo Lucano on Wednesday told his brother Giuseppe that “they arrested me for a crime of humanity”.
Lucano, known worldwide for reviving his once-moribund town with migrants, was said by Giuseppe to be “surprised, embittered and also a little angry”.
Giuseppe told ANSA “he is angry at some things seen in the warrant, even though the preliminary investigations judge rejected them.
“In any case he is confident, he feels that he has not done anything in particular that could justify a limitation of his freedom.
“Anyway today he is more serene, he has seen he is not alone”.
The arrest of Lucano, on suspicion of abetting illegal immigration by marriages of convenience among other things, has spurred a wave of support by pro-migrant groups.
Prosecutors said earlier “if the Riace model fails it is not our fault”.
Video transcript #1:
|00:02||That which for Europe and the world is a model, for the prosecutor of Locri|
|00:05||in Calabria is a system based on illicit [acts].|
|00:08||The tribunal that ordered house arrest for Mayor Mimmo Lucano,|
|00:11||however, took a half-step back, dropping the most serious charges against the mayor —|
|00:14||extortion, embezzlement, swindling the State —|
|00:17||because, underlines the judge in his provision, the management of funds for the reception|
|00:21||of immigrants has perhaps been disorganized and hasty, but nobody has pocketed one cent.|
|00:25||Two charges remain in place. According to the prosecutor,|
|00:28||with the collaboration of the company Lucano organized one or more marriages of convenience,|
|00:33||and that he forced the procedure in a manner to entrust trash collection services to|
|00:37||the cooperative, established in Riace, which gives jobs to migrants and (citizens) of Riace,|
|00:41||In 2016, the American magazine Fortune listed him among the 50 most influential persons|
|00:45||in the world. As was to be expected, the case has become national|
|00:49||with the first reaction from Minister Salvini, and the response from the lawyer for the mayor while|
|00:54||Lucano continues to define himself as disobedient.|
|00:58||His model up to now has been that of installing the immigrants in the abandoned|
|01:02||historic city center, to revitalize in this manner the locality of Riace.
Video transcript #2:
|00:24||Do you like Mimmo Lucano? —Yes, I like him. Yes, [he’s] good. He is good.|
|00:29||Please, take, take, he is our father, the father of blacks.|
|00:34||That he has made work… Father, father of black[s]. Him. Understand?|
|00:39||He is good. He is good.|
|00:42||Please [unintelligible] —Therefore, we [should] free Mimmo Lucano?|
|00:46||Yes. Freedom — Freedom —Yes, Yes. He is good, because if not for Mimmo Lucano,|
|00:51||look at us. We have families. We have children. We have children.|
|00:55||What will we eat? Nothing. Nothing. If not for only that man.|
|00:59||We need him, Please. Yes, please. We need him.|
|01:06||Therefore, all together… —Bring him home. Bring him home. He is a good man.|
|01:14||He is a nice man. He gave us life. [Unintelligible]|
|01:20||For how many years? —Two —[Unintelligible]|
|01:23||He’s given us shelter. —[Unintelligible] don’t care where we are [unintelligible] It’s OK.|
|01:26||Freedom to Mimmo Lucano —Yes. Freedom Domenico.|
|01:31||Shout, shout, shout “Freedom Mimmo Lucano”|
|01:35||—Yes. We need him. He’s a good man. Bring him back.|
|01:39||I have a child. —Mimmo Lucano Freedom|
|01:43||Freedom, Freedom… Freedom —Freedom Mimmo Lucano|
|01:52||Thank you. We are ready…
Hat tips for the articles: Insubria and Reader From Chicago.