A mayor as soon as held up as a mannequin for migrant integration in Italy was sentenced to 13 years in jail on Thursday for a collection of crimes together with abetting unlawful immigration.
Domenico Lucano, the mayor of Riace in southern Italy till 2018, made headlines world wide for welcoming migrants to the sparsely-populated Calabrian village in a bid to spice up jobs and growth.
Prosecutors had referred to as for the 63-year outdated, referred to as Mimmo, to be sentenced to seven years and 11 months for a collection of crimes, together with conspiracy, abuse of workplace, fraud, extortion and embezzlement.
His legal professionals mentioned the courtroom discovered him responsible on almost each depend, and gave him nearly double the jail time – 13 years and two months – sparking disbelief and outrage amongst supporters and the political left.
“It is an exorbitant conviction that completely goes in opposition to the proof… (it’s) completely incomprehensible and unjustified,” legal professionals Giuliano Pisapia and Andrea Daqcua mentioned.
“Greater than 13 years in jail for a person like Mimmo Lucano, who lives in poverty and has had no pecuniary or non-pecuniary benefits from his actions as mayor of Riace… (is) astonishing,” they have been quoted as saying by Italian media.
An Italian courtroom has sentenced former Riace’s mayor #MimmoLucano to 13 years for having tried to construct efficient fashions of reception and integration. We proceed to aspect with him within the battle to construct extra simply and egalitarian societies https://t.co/RefXhhc2B0
— Open Arms ENG (@openarms_found) September 30, 2021
Lucano, who will enchantment, “has at all times been dedicated to his neighborhood and to the reception and integration of kids, ladies and men fleeing struggle, torture and starvation,” they mentioned.
The mayor’s arrest in 2018 surprised some in Italy and reverberated round Europe, the place the “Riace mannequin” – paid for for the reason that 2000s with Italian and European funds – had been hailed as a easy however efficient strategy to revive depopulated villages and home tons of of asylum seekers.
The programme noticed deserted homes restored and craft workshops reopened in Riace, attracting vacationers, and was lauded by many as a mannequin of integration.
Lucano was even named one of many 100 most influential personalities by Fortune journal in 2016 and impressed a docu-fiction by Wim Wenders.
The courtroom ordered Lucano to repay 500,000 euros ($580,000) value of EU funds, media experiences mentioned.
“I’m outlawed as a result of the state has behaved cowardly in direction of me,” Lucano mentioned as he left courtroom, in keeping with the Repubblica newspaper.
“I’ve spent my life chasing anti-mafia beliefs. I grew to become mayor, I sided with the least lucky, with the refugees,” he mentioned, including that he thought it “unlikely that mafia crimes obtain such sentences”.