Pro-immigration Mayor forced to leave Riace

RIACE – In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Mayor of Riace Domenico Lucano left the town in compliance with a court order, judicial sources said.

 Lucano was placed under house arrest earlier in October on charges of, among other things, facilitating illegal immigration. He had previously been lauded for reviving the rural Calabrian town through allowing migrants and refugees to settle in Riace.

 His house arrest lasted just over two weeks, but the conditions of his release include the prohibition of residence in Riace. He has therefore left the town, of which he still remains Mayor. His partner, Tesfahun Lemlem, is under investigation for the same crimes, but will stay in Riace and is required to sign in with the authorities on a regular basis.

 According to sources, the central government is set to scrap the ‘SPRAR’ projects which provided help to migrants in Riace, citing alleged “serious anomalies.”

 On Tuesday, Lucano was quoted as saying that “we will go forward all the same without public financing, because over the years we have built up the support for integration that will make a difference today.” He continued, perhaps unexpectedly expressing agreement at the government’s decision to scrap SPRAR, “I want to convey this message to the government: we want to move away from SPRAR…I do not want to deal with those who don’t have faith and with a government that often does not respect human rights.”