Italy's migrant-hosting town of Riace switches to Salvini's League

Rome (dpa) - Riace, a small town in southern Italy renowned for its migrant-hosting programme, has switched its political allegiance to the anti-immigration far-right League party of deputy premier Matteo Salvini.

The League was the most popular party in Sunday's elections for the European Parliament, with almost 31 per cent. On the same day, the town also elected a mayor supported by local League activists.
The result was a new blow for beleaguered ex-mayor Mimmo Lucano, who, before a recent string of setbacks, had won plaudits for revitalizing the depopulating Riace by opening it up to asylum-seekers.
"There is a lot of bitterness and sadness" about how the election went, Lucano said in a video interview published Tuesday by the La Repubblica newspaper.
Lucano, who has served three terms as mayor, failed to get elected to the city council. And he remains dogged by legal problems linked to his pro-migrant policies.
Lucano was suspended and temporarily placed under house arrest in October after being accused of several irregularities, including organizing sham marriages, in his quest to help migrants.
He is facing a trial, starting on June 11, for several crimes including embezzlement, abuse of office, abetting illegal migration and breach of public procurement laws. He denies all charges.
In the La Repubblica video, he blamed Salvini for stirring hatred and "leading us towards a inhuman society. We have all become sadder persons."
Riace's new mayor Antonio Trifoli told La Repubblica there would be no "drastic" dismantling of Lucano's legacy, but he pledged to put "Riace people first," instead of migrants.

Tuesday, May 28th 2019

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