Former RAI journalist accused of slander by a colleague acquitted after 10 years

Angelo Di Natale, sued for the content of a revelatory complaint about the management of the news bulletin, thanks Ossigeno for having contributed to his legal costs

The Free Legal Aid Office of Ossigeno ( read here), which works in collaboration with Media Defence, awarded a cash contribution to partially cover legal costs to the journalist Angelo Di Natale, who recounted his story in this text written for Ossigeno

OSSIGENO October 26th 2021 – by Angelo Di Natale – I have known about the activity of Ossigeno per l’Informazione for many years, especially its Observatory on threatened journalists and news blacked out by violence, perhaps helped in this by knowing for a long time its founder and president Alberto Spampinato. I must acknowledge his merit in seeing the relevance of my case to the aims pursued by the Association and of having decided to award me a cash gratuity to cover partially the legal expenses I incurred in defending myself in court.

In fact, my case is significantly different from another current case. I have been (and in the event of an appeal judgment I will still be) accused, for the moment acquitted by a court of first instance, not for having written an article published by a newspaper, but for having written – and supported on every occasion – a statement in defence of the essence of the function of journalism and its values ​​of freedom, independence, service to the truth and the right of citizens to be informed. Especially by a ‘special’ publisher such as a public sector broadcaster financed by the citizens, all rich and poor in equal parts, without distinction of income.

In particular, the offence for which I was first investigated and then accused over  ten years, following a complaint from a colleague, is that of calumny , a crime against the administration of justice and much more serious than defamation. The incriminating writing is instead a complaint that I also forwarded unaltered to the judiciary, following the outcome, in my opinion contrary to the empirical evidence, of a company investigation, when I saw that the publisher, the  state broadcaster Rai, or at least its managers intervening to address the problem raised by me, instead of operating truthfully  with the validity of the facts, as well as for the fulfilment of RAI’s service obligations (obligations not with respect to me, but to the community of users) sided against me. Well before the complaint, I had pointed out certain “anomalies” in the performance of the public service, with a proactive spirit in all possible ways and always within a transparent debate in the editorial office.

For over a year I have tried – with the indisputable factual evidence – to put an end to those “anomalies”. The executives involved ignored them arriving at the outcome that I believe wrong according to which those facts, evident and indisputable to me, were not true. I had, therefore, to submit to the judicial authority a complaint intended for the internal sections of the organisation.

This cost me much more than the trial for calumny. It cost me another two years of disciplinary proceedings and professional marginalization, up to and including my dismissal, which I have always considered unfair; which I perceived as retaliatory and instrumental, formally attributed to another different justification: an erroneous allegation of having violated the duty of exclusivity.

And precisely the long trial (26 hearings in six years, in addition to the four that took place between the start of the criminal proceedings and the indictment) demonstrated both to the validity of my complaint of which I was accused (in fact I was acquitted “because there was no evidence of an offence”) and also the real “unjust cause” of my dismissal.

I sincerely thank Ossigeno per l’Informazione also for having included a case like this in its casebook.

ASP

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