Biella: the right to criticise. The judge absolves La Voce del Canavese

“The fact does not constitute a crime”. The chief editor and the writer of an article had been sued in 2013 by a mayor. The prosecuting magistrate had sought a guilty verdict.

On the 3rd July 2018 the judge of the Court of Biella acquitted Amos Giardino, collaborator of the online newspaper La Voce del Canavese, and the journalist Liborio La Mattina, chief editor of the newspaper. The two had been accused of defaming in print the mayor of Casalborgone (Turin ), Francesco Cavallero. The judge ruled that “the fact does not constitute a crime”.

The mayor had sued Giardino (who was in turn a former mayor of Casalborgone) for an article published in May 2013 in the column “From the Citizen’s side”.

The chief editor had been charged with neglecting control.

Amos Giardino had criticized the announcement, made by the mayor, of a modification to the town plan of the municipality, writing: “the slanderers of the town are insinuating that perhaps this initiative is being taken because the Mayor, within the current regulations, is having difficulty in subdividing, following an inheritance, one of his houses in the SIC (an area of special communal protection)“.

In 2014, Giardino and La Mattina were sent to trial. At the trial, the prosecutor requested a sentence of a 5 thousand euro fine for Giardino and 4 thousand one for La Mattina.

Instead the judge of the Court of Biella ruled that “the column written by Giardino is comparable to an editorial where he expresses his own opinions on the facts of news. He is not limited, therefore, unlike the news sections to merely informing on events. In favour of such an interpretation, on the other hand, is the fact that Giardino is not registered in the Order of Journalists order, is a former politician and above all his column has a particular graphic appearance that makes it totally unrelated to the content of the page where it is inserted. Thus, the nature of the column appears to be considered as the right to criticize”.

Ossigeno had already taken up the case of La Voce del Canavese.

RDM (wt)

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