It was a news, not a plot against the prosecutor’s office

The trial against Franco Oddo (La Civetta), Gianfranco Pensavalle and Salvatore La Rocca (Magma), Carmelo Maiorca and the politicians Foti and Salvo have been set aside

After eight years, nothing came of it. Four Sicilian journalists and two Syracuse politicians had been investigated (for criminal association, slander and defamation): the chief editor of the “Civetta di Minerva” of Syracuse Franco Oddo, the chief editor of the magazine Magma Salvatore La Rocca, the freelance journalist Gianfranco Pensavalli, Carmelo Maiorca, chief editor of “L’Isola dei cani” (whose judgment had already been set aside on the 22nd March 2019), the former parliamentarian Gino Foti and the former mayor of Syracuse Aldo Salvo.

They were all acquitted with the judgement set aside by the general prosecutor of Messina, Maria Vermiglio, on May 2nd 2019, after long and in-depth investigations that exonerated them from all responsibility.

The six were accused of having organised , in 2011, in collusion with each other, a sort of political-media plot to delegitimize, through false accusations and a media campaign, the work of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Syracuse and have it transferred to another location. At the time the chief prosecutor was Ugo Rossi and his deputy Maurizio Musco. The Messina Public Prosecutor’s Office was the subject of the case because the reputations of these two magistrates of Syracuse were allegedly damaged.

THE TRIAL – On the 8th April 2019 the Messina Public Prosecutor asked for the case to be closed with an order which pointed out that the alleged offence had not been ascertained, that no organisational links had emerged between the defendants, that no money had passed between them and “in particular there is no evidence of an agreement between the defendants associates.”

The trial arose from some wire-tapping conducted for another trial. On the basis of this, it was alleged that a strategy had been devised by Luigi Foti and to be implemented with the help of journalists Oddo, La Rocca, Pensavalli and Carmelo Maiorca to delegitimize the work of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Syracuse, its boss and one of his substitutes.

According to the indictment, articles published in November 2011 by local magazines Magma and La Civetta di Minerva were part of this strategy. Those articles are aspects which aroused the concern of the Public Prosecutor. In particular, with regard to the management of some proceedings in which the lawyer Piero Amara, the lawyer for the National Petroleum Agency, acted as defence counsel and also in consideration of relationships of joint interest in some private companies between the criminal lawyer, prosecuting magistrates and their family members.

The same issues were raised at the time also by some questions in the Italian parliament and in 2012 were the basis of an inspection in the offices of the prosecutor ordered by the Minister of Justice Paola Severino. The inspection concluded with the decision to transfer to another location, with immediate effect, the magistrates subjected to the criticisms and to leave to the CSM (Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura = Magistrates’ Top Council) the task of clarifying their respective positions.


The General Prosecutor of Messina ordered the dismissal of the accusation of a “plot to delegitimize the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Syracuse” which had been raised in the aftermath of the 2011 inquiry by chief prosecutor Ugo Rossi and by the prosecutor Maurizio Musco, substantiated with 335 pages of wiretapping transcriptions carried out by the police. In none of them – I repeat in none of them – the Hon. Foti and former mayor Aldo Salvo talked to me or phoned me or showed that they had any contact with me. For months, after the publication of the investigation of the “Civetta di Minerva”, they tried to denigrate me with headlines in the newspaper “La Sicilia” on this alleged conspiracy, to insinuate that I and my colleagues from Magma had operated in criminal collusion with the former undersecretary Gino Foti and former mayor Aldo Salvo. It is right that today the same newspaper “La Sicilia”, in the Syracusa news section (see here), has dedicated a prominent article to my total acquittal. In the article it is clearly stated that they have turned my current account and my wife’s account inside out like a sock in search of transfers from the former member of parliament or of persons related to him but, to their shame, they have found the account perpetually in the red. Thus the last disgraceful accusation collapses of my daring to desecrate the temple of justice of Syracusa which, after my investigation, desecrated itself much more than I thought. I am pleased that together with mine, the case against Salvatore La Rocca, former chief of Magma, and the journalist Gianfranco Pensavalli, who now writes with us, has also been dismissed. After the recent acquittal of Carmelo Maiorca, this is a further confirmation of the excellent service rendered by our newspaper to honest citizens and magistrates, of which I and all the newspaper’s collaborators are proud.

ASP (wt)

Read also: What to do if a news article looks like a conspiracy

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