Casagni, the other reporter spied on by Montante

The former president of Confindustria Sicilia (the Sicilian industrialists organisation) arrested in March 2018 has illegally collected information to discredit Casagni, as it was the case of Bolzoni.

In addition to Attilio Bolzoni (see here), another journalist, the Sicilian Giampiero Casagni, a collaborator with the weekly Centonove, was “spied on” by the former president of Confindustria Sicilia as well as the legal compliance officer Antonello Montante. This emerged from the arrest warrant for Montante and 18 others.

The former president of Confindustria Sicilia was arrested in May 2018 and is currently on trial in Caltanissetta. He is accused of having headed a criminal association aimed at corruption and spying even on the investigators who were investigating him. The first hearing was held on October 19th 2018. Montante will be tried under the “accelerated procedure” and the next hearing, probably the final one, will be held December 7th 2018.

To spy on the two journalists, the former president of Confindustria Sicilia allegedly used a police collaborator, now his co-defendant, who accessed without authorization the central police database.

The investigating judge claims that Montante “wanted to acquire information on people who have played a political role in the region and who had entered into a collision course with him and the industrialists’ system that he represented in relation to a great variety of activities”. The activity, named “dossieraggio” also involved Bolzoni and Casagni. Both journalists constituted the civil party in the process.

Since 2015 Casagni had reported on the Centonove weekly the legal misadventures of Montante, who at that time was publicly regarded as the leader of Confindustria most actively engaged against the Mafia in Sicily.

Casagni, like the journalist of the newspaper La Repubblica Attilio Bolzoni, appeared to the investigators as a victim of that dossieraggio by Montante.

THE ATTACKS ON CASAGNI

The investigators show that since 2014 Antonello Montante had attempted to obstruct and discredit the work of Giampiero Casagni. Starting in 2015, with the help of his collaborators and a police officer, Montante illegally collected information about Casagni and his relatives to discredit his reputation and make his journalism untrustworthy. During a search carried out in the industrialist’s home in Serradifalco (Caltanissetta) investigators found a folder containing Casagni’s articles.

THE HOUSE SEARCH AND THE DOSSIER – During the search at the home of Antonello Montante in January 22nd 2016, investigators discovered a truly secret archive, hidden behind a bookcase, containing named folders on politicians, entrepreneurs and civil society figures . Among the folders, one was entitled Attilio Bolzoni and another Giampiero Casagni. They contained articles and transcripts of telephone conversations of the two journalists.

In particular, in the folder on Casagni, in addition to the articles published on Centonove , there were some emails sent in 2013 by the reporter and the transcript of a telephone conversation between Casagni and the manager of Confindustria Alfonso Cicero.
“The documentation found – as described in the order of the Court of Caltanissetta – can be said to be clearly intended to support the thesis that the journalist had started writing articles against Montante because he was motivated by feelings of bitterness through having been denied job opportunities. Apart from what was shown above – the investigators go on to say – what was most disturbing is, first of all, a handwritten note contained in the aforementioned ‘Casagni folder’ from which it is possible to deduce how Montante had already collected information on Casagni (especially on his professional collaborations, as well as on the relatives of his partner) and how it promised to acquire additional in-depth information”.

During the search the draft was also found of a lawsuit that Montante considered presenting against Casagni, in relation to some missing documents from the offices of Confindustria Sicilia. The content of one of these missing documents had actually been the subject of Casagni’s articles. During the investigation phase, the journalist admitted that he had been aware of that document and as requested handed a copy of it to the investigators.
Montante had also kept a series of documents relating to the Centonove magazine and to the company directors and two articles published in 2013.

THE ASSISTANCE FROM THE POLICE OFFICER – Investigators have discovered that Antonello Montante obtained confidential information thanks to the help of Giuseppe Graceffa, deputy superintendent of the police in Palermo. The magistrate ‘s warrant refers to the fact that Giuseppe Graceffa, on more than one occasion, made unauthorized illegal access to the computer system of the police databases in order to acquire information to be supplied to Montante. In particular, he did so on the 11th June 2015. On the 4th October 2013, i.e., a few days after the publication of the articles filed by Montante, the police officer had researched on the staff of the Centonove publication.

THE MULÈ CASE – In 2014, Casagni had discovered that Vincenzo Arnone, son of the boss Paolo and also a “man of honour” at the top of the Serradifalco Mafia family, had been a witness at the wedding of Antonello Montante. These relationships of Montante with elements linked to organized crime were later confirmed by the investigations of the Caltanissetta Prosecutor who, however, did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute for the offence of external collusion with the Mafia.

At the time Casagni had proposed to the weekly Panorama to publish a news article to reveal these relationships. The journalist had approached Giorgio Mulè, who was the chief editor of the weekly (and since March 2018 has become a Forza Italia parliamentarian). The article was not published, but Mulè reported Casagni’s proposal to Montante.

Montante himself referred to the episode in his defence outline stating that the chief editor of Panorama had considered it appropriate to inform him because he suspected that it was an action designed to discredit him. The investigators stated that “It is hard to believe this in view of the nature of the extremely confidential relationship between Montante and Mulè” but they did not consider Mulè’s conduct to be criminally actionable. On the 21st February 2016, Casagni informed the Disciplinary Board of the Order of Journalists of Lombardy asking for Mulè’s behaviour to be sanctioned.

THE MYSTERIOUS MICRO SPYING DEVICE – The magistrate who ordered the arrest of Montante has assembled what appears to be an attempt to discredit Casagni. On the 9th April the director of Confindustria of Central Sicily, Carlo La Rotonda, having just returned from a trip abroad, reported to Marco Venturi, president of the Central Sicily Confindustria, that on the 3rd April a micro spying device was found in the offices of the Central Sicily Confindustria.   He told him that Montante and the former policeman Dario De Simone, his collaborator, had ordered a check on the premises after a visit made two days earlier by the journalist Giampiero Casagni. They suggested that Casagni could have installed the device illegally. In addition Carlo La Rotonda informed Marco Venturi that he had not yet filed a complaint about the incident which he would do only on April 14th. These circumstances and the different versions provided to Venturi and the police, made the attribution of responsibility to Casagni not credible .
“I got the impression – said Marco Venturi, whilst making a formal statement   – that this whole story had been created to make it appear that the journalist was involved in the spying activities of Montante and that the attempt had not succeeded because of my clear opposition”.

Moreover, in the formal complaint, the director of the Central Sicily Confindustria had not mentioned the suspicions about Casagni and had justified the maintenance as necessary following a power cut. “There are – the investigators write – in the opinion of the public prosecutor a series of clues, all converging, which lead us to believe that the outcome of the checks performed that 3rd April 2015 was that, in reality, no bugs had been found inside the premises of Central Sicily Confindustria. Evidence of its illegal installation had been artificially created by the technicians of the company who performed the repairs at the request of Montante and Di Simone and with the complicity of La Rotonda “.

An additional element led the investigators to believe that an operation had been conducted to discredit Casagni. On the 18th March 2015,  that is, a few days before the episode of the listening bug, an anonymous note arrived in the Caltanissetta headquarters of Confindustria which indicated Casagni as “a man close to the Caltanissetta Mafia “.

All these circumstances are now being examined by the judges of the Court.

Read the extracts from the preventative detention order on Attilio Bolzoni’s Mafie blog .

RDM (wt)

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