Pro-migrant Italian mayor charged with setting up fake marriages

©Agence France-Presse

Lucano made a name for himself by welcoming migrants to Riace to tackle the dwindling population

Rome (AFP) - A high-profile pro-migrant mayor in populist-ruled Italy was ordered Thursday to face court over charges he set up fake marriages to help foreign women stay in the country after their asylum applications were rejected.

Domenico Lucano, under house arrest after being apprehended in October, was told by an investigating magistrate to turn up for a June 11 hearing in Locri, in southern Italy, media reported.

Lucano made a name for himself over the past two decades for welcoming migrants to his village of Riace, population 1,800, to counter a gradual decline of inhabitants and workers.

German director Wim Wenders made a documentary in 2010 featuring the leftist mayor and Riace's refugees.

After his arrest, he was ordered into house detention away from Riace. Prosecutors allege he organised sham marriages and failed to put to tender a garbage collection contract that went to a migrant-linked cooperative.

Since last year Italy has been governed by a populist coalition whose most powerful faction is the right-wing League led by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who also holds the interior ministry portfolio and has taken a hard line against migrants.