13 years in prison for the former mayor of an Italian village who invited immigrants

Former Italian mayor Domenico Lucano, who became world famous in 2015 for taking immigrants to his anti-aging village, has been sentenced to 13 years and two months in prison. Lucano, 63, is on trial for abuse of office, fraud, embezzlement and complicity in illegal immigration.

The prison sentence is much higher than the nearly eight years in prison demanded by the public prosecutor. His partner must also go to prison: she was sentenced to four years and four months. In addition, the former mayor has to repay half a million euros in European and Italian subsidies.

Lucano spoke after hearing the verdict in an “unprecedented” case that ruined his life. “I am being punished for sins I did not commit. I have dedicated my life to pursuing my ideals, fighting the mafia, and improving my country’s image. Now I am dead inside.”

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As mayor, Lucano was actively involved in bringing immigrants to his elderly village, Riace. It started in the 1990s with Kurdish refugees, and later on, other groups followed. At the end of his term, in 2018, 300 immigrants were living in a mountain village of 1,900. His initiative was followed with interest by both unsavory supporters and opponents.

During the refugee crisis in 2015, the Riyat project became global news. Several mayors followed suit and invited immigrants to their elderly villages. A year later, Fortune magazine included Lucano in its list of the 50 most influential people in the world.

Three years ago, he was arrested on charges of promoting illegal immigration. He is said to have helped organize marriages of convenience and distribute false identity cards. In his enterprise, he was also irresponsible with public money, was the indictment.

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Three days before the local elections

According to Lucano’s lawyer, there is no doubt that a political trial will take place for his client, but they are convinced that there is “some kind of anger” against the politician. They announced an appeal.

The ruling comes at a sensitive time. Regional elections will be held next Sunday and Monday in the Calabria region, which includes Riace. Lucano is campaigning for the left-wing regional presidential candidate Luigi de Magistris, who is currently the mayor of Naples.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the populist right Lega, alerts his followers On social media in That the left is led by someone who was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Refugee organizations, on the other hand, are not satisfied with the ruling. The NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans call it Statement “shameless”. Sea Watch Italy also expresses its support for Lucano.

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