The highest Italian court of cassation has ruled that Riace Mayor Domenico Lucano did not commit fraud. The judges also annulled the residency ban against Lucano in Riace.
The court ruled there was no evidence of fradulent behavior on the part of Domenico "Mimmo" Lucano, the suspended mayor of Riace, who was accused of wrongdoing over the assignment of trash-collection services without a public tender.
The ruling said two cooperatives were hired for trash-collection services only after "collegiate" deliberations and proceedings and with "prescribed opinions of technical and accounting regularity on the part of the respective directors of the service concerned."
The statements came in a document explaining the court's motivations for its ruling in a February 26 hearing, which also annulled a ban on residency in Riace that had been placed on Lucano. This residency ban had been placed on the mayor on October 16 as part of an investigation by the Locri prosecutor's office, which has requested Lucano be put on trial.
The southern Italian town of Riace has been held up as a
model for integration since it began welcoming immigrants in 1998. The court case against Lucano has been controversial - some of the mayor's supporters have claimed the investigation is part of a “political war” waged by the anti-immigrant Italian government.
No evidence of 'opacity' in tenders
The Court also said that there was no evidence of "opacity" characterising Lucano's action in assigning the services to the cooperatives L'Aquilone and Ecoriace, and that the law permits for the "direct assignment of tenders" to social cooperatives "aimed at job placement for disadvantaged people" on the condition that the total amounts of the service are "below the EU threshold."
It cited this as the reason why the appeals court has to reexamine the framework to support the illegality of the assignments.
Lucano tried to help girlfriend
The Cassation Court said there were elements of "circumstantial gravity" in the fact that Lucano attempted to facilitate the legal stay in Italy of his non-Italian girlfriend. It said, however, that "the emotional relationship" between the two and Lucano's lack of a prior criminal record are two factors that must be considered prior to deciding whether to place a residency ban on the Riace mayor again.