The wife of an alleged boss, who gave a powerful slap to the envoy Maria Grazia Mazzola, is under investigation for threats and injuries. Protests and solidarity
The attack on the well-known RAI journalist Maria Grazia Mazzola has had enormous resonance. The TG1 correspondent, on February 9, 2018, was hit in the face, with a powerful slap that forced her to resort to medical treatment and to wear an orthopedic collar for ten days. It happened in Bari, at the entrance of a house in the popular neighborhood Libertà. The woman is Monica Leara, wife of the alleged boss Lorenzo Caldarola, affiliated to the Strisciuglio clan, to whom the journalist had asked to release an interview to be included in an investigation on the baby gangs that rage in Puglia. The question stemmed from the fact that the two sons of the woman both have a criminal record.
Ms. Leara refused the interview but was not content to express herself in words. The journalist stressed that she had done nothing to provoke that reaction. “I was not insistent, I was rather Anglo-Saxon,” she said. And once again showed the images recorded at the time of the attack.
Monica Leara has downplayed the episode. But after a wave of protests that has invested her and the many public statements of solidarity with the journalist, she changed attitude. On 11 February, interviewed by the TGR Puglia, she apologized to Mazzola. Now she is under investigation for threats and injuries.
“I will believe in the apologies the day when Ms. Caldarola will take her children and insert them in the program of the State of the Italian Republic which is called ‘Free to choose’. They should quit the clans for the program for legality and to behave like civil citizens”, the journalist replied interviewed by RAI news (watch).
SOLIDARITY – There have been many representatives of the world of politics and information to express solidarity with Mazzola. The aggression was defined as “unacceptable” by the editorial board of TG1, by Assostampa Puglia, by USIGRAI and FNSI. Among others, the National Order of Journalists and that of Lazio have also expressed their solidarity with the journalist. Libera has defined the aggression as “a vile and violent act”. The president and general manager of RAI have spoken of “an attempt to intimidate public service information that can not be tolerated”, while the chief editor of the TG1 Andrea Montanari spoke of a “vile and disquieting act” and received the phone call of premier Paolo Gentiloni. The latter condemned the gesture and expressed solidarity with the journalist. For Rosy Bindi, president of the anti-mafia parliamentary commission, “the mafias do not tolerate those who inform the public opinion telling the criminal reality of the country”. Bindi called investigative journalists “precious allies in the battle against organized crime”. Solidarity also by the president of the Senate, Pietro Grasso, who spoke of an “attack on democracy”, and by the president of the Chamber, Laura Boldrini. Firm condemnation of the episode and closeness to the journalist was also expressed by the President of the Puglia Region, Michele Emiliano, and by the Mayor of Bari, Antonio Decaro.
TIGHTENING CONTROLS – On 10 February, the Provincial Committee for the Order and Public Security of Bari met in the Prefecture and ordered a tightening of controls by the police in the Liberty district. The Mayor of Bari, Antonio Decaro, also took part in the meeting, assuring that “the citizens do not intend to turn their heads away from the other episodes”. In addition, on the same day, in a statement released at the end of a meeting between the Secretary General of the FNSI, Raffaele Lorusso, and the presidents of the Press Association and the Association of Journalists of Puglia, Bepi Martellotta and Piero Ricci, as well as the Quaestor of Bari, Carmine Esposito, the FNSI has announced its intention to ask the Minister of the Interior – Marco Minniti – to convene a meeting for a Coordination for the safety of journalists to take stock of the situation on what happened in Bari and in other realities.
THE DEMONSTRATION – On Sunday 11 February, right in front of the Church of the Redeemer, in the Libertà neighborhood, a demonstration was held by Libera for freedom of the press, as a sign of solidarity with Mazzola. The meeting was attended by the regional coordinator of Libera Puglia, Mario Dabbicco, the mayor of Bari and ANCI president, Antonio Decaro, the president of the Order of journalists of Puglia, Piero Ricci, and the general secretary of the National Press Federation (FNSI) , Raffaele Lorusso. “One must have trust and overcome the fear that probably limited participation in the Sunday event. In that area of the city the State is not absent, guarding it with the constant commitment of the police forces and the judiciary”, the Prosecutor of Bari, Volpe, said the day after the event.