Defamation. Web. Seized 2 articles of Marilù Mastrogiovanni

The inquiry into waste management in Salento was published in Il Tacco d’Italia in March. Also obscured the related posts on the Facebook page

On September 19, 2017 the magistrate of the Court of Lecce, Giovanni Gallo – at the request of the PM – ordered the preventive seizure of two articles by journalist Marilù Mastrogiovanni published in the online newspaper Il Tacco d’Italia, of which she is the chief editor. At the same time the posts with the same text published have been obscured on the Facebook page of the newspaper.

The articles report the result of exclusive surveys on the management of waste collection in the municipality of Casarano (in the province of Lecce) and in Salento. Marilù Mastrogiovanni has highlighted the relationships between the company Igeco, owner of the waste management service, the municipal councilor Gigi Loris Stefano, and some members of the mafia organization Sacra Corona Unita, including the boss Augustino Potenza (killed in October 2016). The Igeco company had sued the journalist for defamation.

The articles – and the posts that relaunched them on Facebook – were published on March 10th and March 14th, 2017; complaints about defamation had arrived on March 21st and April 5th. The decree of preventive seizure was notified to the journalist on December 12th. For the investigating magistrate, “the fumus of the crime of defamation emerges from the investigation” against Igeco: Mastrogiovanni – underlines the judge – used “very strong expressions”, approaching the company to the boss Potenza.

Ossigeno per l’Information expresses solidarity with Marilù Mastrogiovanni. “The seizure order – declared the director of Ossigeno, Aberto Spampinato – appears to be in contrast with the jurisprudence dictated by the Supreme Court regarding the seizure of online articles. The decision of the Court of Cassation relative to the Civil Joint Sections n. 23469, published on November 18, 2016 has indeed established that the online journalistic magazines are in all similar to paper newspapers, with regard to constitutional guarantees, in particular about the impossibility to proceed with the preventive seizure of published contents”.

The journalist also received solidarity from the FNSI and the Assostampa Puglia, the regional journalists’ union. Both have called the seizure a “serious and disturbing” act. “The Constitution – they write in a joint note – allows this provision only in very few and well-defined cases, among which libel is not one of them”. The two professional bodies have supported the application of the release from seizure presented by the lawyer of the Tacco d’Italia.

The councilor Gigi Loris Stefano, in March 2017, had threatened the journalist after she had published excerpts of telephone wiretapping and judicial police acts in which he was defined “contiguous” to the Montedoro-Potenza clan. Later, the councilor resigned.

RDM (gt)

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