The two journalists, the author and the editor, received a demand for compensation in relation to three articles claimed to be defamatory
Giuseppe Pignataro, manager of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, asked for 750,000 euro damages from the journalist of Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, Massimiliano Scagliarini and the editor Giuseppe De Tomaso for having published on the 9th, 10th and 11th of February 2018 three articles which alleged that Pignataro was being investigated for fraudulent bankruptcy in the context of the collapse of Ferrovie Sud Est. A month after the publication of the articles, an instruction from the Procura of the Republic confirmed that the manager was being investigated.
“This is one of the many attempts to constrain the freedom of journalists through excessive and unsubstantiated requests” Scagliarini declared to Ossigeno which already in the past had assisted him (read).
After the publication of the first article, the Gazzetta had received a rebuttal in which the lawyer of Pignataro contradicted the news stating precisely that his client had not received any warning of an investigation.
The newspaper published this rebuttal with this reply: “The decision to include it in the register of those being investigated has been taken by the office of the attorney of the city of Bari as part of the investigation into Ferrovie Sud-Est already made available to the involved parties.”
Then on the 8th March 2018 the other party notified the journalists of a request of an out of court settlement in which it asked for 500,000 euro as compensation for an article and a further 250 000 for the other two articles.
Five days later on the 13th March, the general prosecutor of the Court of Bari issued an order with which he blocked the manager from exercising bank management functions, making public that the manager is being investigated for fraudulent bankruptcy in favour of the creditor BNL and of improper fraudulent bankruptcy through malicious practices to the detriment of the company Ferrovie Sud Est and Servizi Automobilistici S.r.l. The news was published in several newspapers.
On the 5th April the reconciliation meeting took place but the journalists did not turn up, after having made written submissions through the legal department of the newspaper.