The former mayor of Riace, in southern Italy, Domenico “Mimmo” Lucano has returned to his town. Riace became a symbol of migration under Lucano who was famous for implementing integration policies to help migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. He had been blocked from returning but the Locri Court has now revoked its ban. Upon his return, Lucano was welcomed by a group of refugees.
Mimmo Lucano has returned to Riace, the town in the Calabrian province of Locri where he was mayor until his arrest on October 2, 2018, on charges of favoring illegal immigration, embezzlement and abuse of office.
The Court of nearby Locri revoked a ban on his return to Riace. The ban was part of a probe called "Xenia" that was looking into alleged illegalities in managing migrant reception in the town.
'I'm happy to be back in Riace'
The revocation of the ban came when the court decided in favor of a request brought by Lucano's defense attorneys, Antonio Mazzone and Andrea Daqua. In the request, the attorneys argued that precautionary measures against Lucano were not necessary because he is no longer mayor nor does he hold any administrative role in government since he wasn't voted onto the city council in recent elections.
"I'm happy to be back in Riace," Lucano said upon his arrival in the town, accompanied by Daqua. Lucano was welcomed by some residents as well as a group of refugees who remained in the town even after the reception system closed.
"First, I'm going to see my father, who is still sick," Lucano said. "Then I'll go home, in the hope that I can sleep there. I have to check, in fact, if the house is accessible because last winter it suffered damage due to some rainwater leaks. However, these problems are secondary compared to the joy of finally being back in my Riace, a place I adore and that I've represented my entire life. What I'm proposing again is to continue to do good and to help those who come to Riace as refugees," he said.
Reactions from the political world
One of the first people to congratulate Lucano on his return home was former Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini. "The revocation of the ban on Mimmo Lucano from returning to Riace is really great news!" Boldrini tweeted. "Welcome home Mimmo, we're with you!" she wrote.
Congratulations also came from MP Nicola Fratoianni with the Free and Equal party, who sent the former Riace mayor "a happy hug. He can finally return to Riace. Great news for Mimmo. And great news also for those who believe in the most basic elements of justice."
Reggio Calabria Governor Mario Oliverio said he is "truly happy that Mimmo Lucano can finally return to his Riace. The City of Riace, thanks to him, linked its name to the high values of respect for people and human rights and projected to the world the practice of reception as a constructive factor for civilization. Today is a wonderful day for civility, justice, and liberty."
Others, such as Senator Maurizio Gasparri of Forza Italia, were not as congratulatory, however. "And they say justice isn't rapid," Gasparri said. "As soon as the new government was sworn in, the Calabrian judges revoked the ban on former Riace mayor Lucano returning to his city. Obviously it's a coincidence. But life is made of coincidences. Who knows what other rulings will come out. After all, a country that keeps an incompetent and incapable person like Bonafede as justice minister deserves this and more," Gasparri concluded.