Lucano, who is famous for integrating thousands of refugees, was last Tuesday placed under house arrest after being accused of “aiding illegal migration”, fraudulently allocating rubbish collection services to two companies, and organising “marriages of convenience” between local men and foreign women for immigration purposes.
Around 6000 people gathered in the hilltop village to express their support for Lucano.
“Keep strong, continue fighting,” protesters chanted as they congregated outside his window, from where he raised a fist in support.
In office since 2004, Lucano has been internationally lauded for successfully integrating refugees into the community of Riace, repopulating the once desolate village and reviving its economy.
The integration model allows migrants to take up residency in the town’s abandoned homes and receive job training and employment.
Since the program began, thousands of migrants have resided in the town, and today, around 500 make up its population of around 1500.
In 2016, Lucano made Fortune Magazine’s list of the World’s Top 50 Leaders for his role in pioneering the model.