The freelance journalist was sued in 2015 and the producer of Announo had refused to provide legal protection. The lawyer Di Pietro: all our clients acquitted.
The freelance journalist Giulia Cerino, defended by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro on behalf of the Ossigeno’s Legal Aid Office, was acquitted. The lawsuit began in August 2015.
Read here the Giulia Cerino case
THE COMMENT OF THE LAWYER ANDREA DI PIETRO
The G.I.P. (Judge for Preliminary Investigation) of the Court of Velletri ordered the dismissal of the criminal proceeding arising from the lawsuit of a young man held responsible for the death of a young woman of the same age in a serious car accident in which she died. The young man who was driving the vehicle that night did not like the news report edited by Cerino, which aired on the 11th June 2015 on La7 station in the broadcast “Announo”, produced by Michele Santoro. The news report reconstructed, through interviews, the story of the death of Federica Monti, which occurred due to a traffic accident caused by the drunkenness of the driver of the vehicle whilst returning from an evening at a discotheque.
The Judge (G.I.P.) considered that in the case in question “there can be no doubt about the truth of the journalistic information in question concerning the case of the plaintiff for which a sentence of plea bargaining against him was issued”. The Judge acquitted Cerino given her right to inform and her correct compliance with this right. Beyond the truth (or at least what he considered this to be the case) of the reported news, the Judge upheld the right of the public to know the facts and the relevance of the expressions used.
This decision, in addition to the satisfaction for the acquittal of Giulia, helps to complete a picture that was unthinkable for us until only four years ago, when we established the Legal Aid Service of Ossigeno. All the journalists we have defended have been acquitted. A sign that reckless lawsuits exist and are not just a paranoia in the mind of those who provide – or try to provide – independent information.
THE COMMENTS OF GIULIA CERINO
I received a libel suit for having reported the case of a group of young people who, after an alcohol-fuelled evening at a discotheque crashed into a tree on a coastal road in Rome. A young woman lost her life. The lawsuit came from the driver of the car and his father. They accused me of making them recognizable and of tarnishing their reputation. All this happened even though I was sure that I had reported correctly and above all that I had never mentioned the name of the young man behind the wheel. The lawsuit was delivered to the editorial office for which I worked, which in the meantime had discontinued subsequent editions of the program for which I had prepared the report. And so the chief editor considered that it was not the case to provide a lawyer to defend me in court, also because it was a criminal case and therefore extraneous to the rule that the responsibility of the journalist is jointly and severally with the publisher.
I admit that I felt drained at that moment, and that I thought it was unfair to leave me exposed. I am not speaking only of the legal expenses that I would have had to pay but above all of the lack of solidarity towards me in the face of the plaintiff and of the treatment received. And so I turned to the Free Legal Aid Office of Ossigeno per l’Informazione. I contacted the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro, who explained the procedure to follow in applying to Ossigeno for legal assistance. Above all, the lawyer was reassuring, making me understand that I was not alone and that he would fight to assert my rights. I trusted him. Completely independently and expressing esteem for me and believing in my good faith, Ossigeno provided legal protection. A few days ago the excellent news arrived – dismissal of the case because the evidence doesn’t support it. We were certain of this from the beginning. Yet in the preceding months the spectre of this lawsuit has certainly created many worries. This is unfortunately the real scourge for freelance reporters. Not only the nightmare of having to pay legal fees, but above all the burden of having to live with the anxiety of pending lawsuits even if they are reckless. Obviously this affects the serenity and therefore the work of the reporter. I thank Ossigeno and the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro, not only for having worked well, but especially for the humanity shown. This is what is most lacking in our society.