Article from la Rete Italiana de Economia Solidale (RIES), Italy

The tumultuous judicial case related to Mimmo Lucano and the Riace model has finally had a positive resolution, overturning the unbelievably unfair first instance conviction and prompting profound reflections on justice, immigration and the future of social inclusion and solidarity economy policies. RIES had joined the appeal in solidarity with the former mayor of Riace.

In the ‘Xenia’ trial, the second instance ruling led to a drastically different outcome from the first instance one. The Court of Appeal of Reggio Calabria sentenced Mimmo Lucano to 1 year and 6 months, a significantly lower sentence than the 13 years and 2 months imposed at first instance. The public prosecutor’s office had initially requested a sentence of 10 years and 5 months for Lucano, but the ruling overturned most of the charges, resulting in a reduced sentence.

The initial sentence, which sentenced the former mayor of Riace to 13 years and 2 months imprisonment, was issued by the Court of Locri on charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and other related offences. The main reasons for this conviction lie in Lucano’s alleged actions to favour irregular immigration and to manage the presence of migrants in the municipality of Riace in a way that did not comply with the law. These accusations generated a wide debate on the legality and morality of Lucano’s actions in the context of the Riace model.

The motivations of the second instance ruling reconsidered Lucano’s actions and the context in which they occurred in more detail, leading to a different assessment of the charges against him. This generated a profound impact on the case and raised questions about the judicial dynamics and implications of the Riace model.

Reactions to this sentence were intense, considering that many had been anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Xenia trial, which had seen Lucano as the main defendant. The drastic reduction of the sentence shocked public opinion, as it marked a clear change from the initial conviction.

This ruling has a significant impact not only on Mimmo Lucano’s life, but also on the ‘Riace model’ of social inclusion and solidarity economy. The case has triggered a heated debate on justice and the reception of migrants, highlighting a wide range of reactions from civil society and institutions.

The Riace model, created by Lucano, has attracted attention for its ability to integrate migrants into the community’s economic and social processes. However, the ruling raised questions about the future of this innovative approach, questioning the sustainability and legitimacy of the policies adopted.

In Riace, mutual, cooperative and solidarity economy practices have been a key element in the creation of a resilient and responsible local economy. Numerous realities in the area offer services aimed at promoting social entrepreneurial activity and supporting ethical and sustainable initiatives.

These include cooperatives operating in agriculture, the production of handicraft goods and the management of social projects. Riace has also witnessed the birth of cooperatives and community emporiums, which have set themselves the goal of selecting producers and suppliers with ethical criteria, valuing respect for workers and care for the environment. These cooperatives foster participation and the sharing of resources among members, promoting a vision of the economy based on solidarity and mutual support.

In addition, the implementation of ethical and responsible microcredit practices has made it possible to support social, cultural and environmental projects in the area, contributing to the growth and well-being of the local community.

These initiatives represent an important legacy of experiences and practices that have helped shape a solidarity-based and participatory economy in Riace, supporting sustainable growth and social cohesion in the local community.

The October 2023 ruling profoundly influenced the public debate, opening the way for further discussions on reception of migrants policies and the management of multi-ethnic communities. The fate of the Riace model now finds itself at the centre of a fervent social dialogue, with many voices rising to express their support and concern for the future of this innovative approach to integration and solidarity.

See also:

We stand with Mimmo Lucano, Article from the RIPESS Europe newsletter, Jason Nardi– October 2021