Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini | Credit: ANSA/ MARCO COSTANTINO
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini | Credit: ANSA/ MARCO COSTANTINO

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has announced that he will reduce the capacity of the Mineo migrant reception center in Sicily. The center is considered the largest in Europe, and has made headlines in recent years with episodes of serious violence and corruption scandals.

Two years ago, when current Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was an opposition leader, he said he wanted the scandal-ridden Reception Center for Asylum Seekers (CARA) in the Sicilian town of Mineo to be closed and torn down completely. 

Now, as interior minister, Salvini has tempered his tone, but is still highly critical of the center, and has announced a reduction in beds there, to make it "less costly and less crowded." 

The center would go from 3,000 guests to 2,400, Salvini wrote on Twitter. He also announced that he would reduce the per-migrant spending from 29 euros to 15 euros per day.  

He claimed the measure would bring savings of 10 million euros in one year, and said that he still planned on closing the center in the longterm. 

Serious violence at the center 

During the height of the migrant influx in Italy, the center hosted as many as 4,000 migrants at a time. The overcrowding led to serious sanitary and security problems. 

The center has made headlines with violence by and against migrants staying there, and the center's leadership has been accused of corruption. 

An 18-year-old hosted in the structure has been accused of killing an elderly couple, Vincenzo Solano and Mercedes Ibanez, in 2015. The court case against the man is still pending. 

In 2016, a Nigerian woman living at the center was allegedly drugged and raped by four men from Nigeria who were also staying at the center. 

This year, a 26-year-old woman was stabbed to death in her room at the center, allegedly by her partner. 
Corruption probes 

There is a long list of open investigations into the center. 

One includes an alleged one-million-euro fraud for "inflated" expense reimbursements. The center's leadership allegedly falsified the number of migrants being hosted in the center. 

Another open probe regards nepotism in hiring at the center. A trial is pending in the Court of Catania, in which 15 people are accused of bid rigging. 

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