Italy. “My calvary as journalist with precarious job and 40 defamation lawsuits”
“It costs me a lot to continue” – Ossigeno and Media Dwfence‘s legal helpdesk granted him a cash gratuity to contribute to his legal expenses
OSSIGENO 16th May 2023 – by Ferdinando Bocchetti – I am the founder and chief editor of a newspaper, Terranostranews, created in 2015. I deal mainly with issues (judicial, criminal and political) relating to the area north of Naples in which I work: a vast majority are with a very high concentration of criminals, with town halls that have repeatedly ended up in the crosshairs of the judiciary or even dissolved due to infiltrations of the Camorra crime syndicate.
For about 18 years, I have been the correspondent of the Neapolitan newspaper il Mattino covering some municipalities, in particular Marano, Quarto, Mugnano, Melito, Qualiano, Villaricca and Calvizzano.
Since I took over the editorship of the online newspaper, Terranostranews, a real ordeal began for me. I have been subjected to about 40 defamation lawsuits brought by mayors, former mayors, city councillors, city employees and business owners. Some lawsuits were dismissed by the public prosecutor in the preliminary phase of the proceedings or after the subsequent ruling by the judge for the preliminary hearing. To be acquitted of other lawsuits, however, I have had to wait for the hearings. Some trials have been long and costly from a financial point of view. To defend myself I turned to more than ten lawyers. Some proceedings have not yet concluded.
Among the many, I mention only a few acquittals that I obtained (on their merits): one instigated by the head of the legal office of the municipality of Marano, one by a former municipal manager, one by a former member of the staff of the Municipality of Marano and a fourth from a former mayor at present indicted in a trial for corruption and intrigue in association with mafia. From the latter I also had other lawsuits, all but one dismissed.
Some of my articles, as proof of their validity and correctness, have even been cited in pre-trial detention orders and despite this, for the very same articles, the defamation trials are still going on.
Over the years I have also faced a judicial proceeding initiated by the court of Arezzo, in relation to the news of unauthorised construction committed years ago in the municipality of Arzano, in the province of Naples. This affair, together with others, had prompted the Italian Ministry of the Interior to abrogate that city council due to mafia infiltration. Well, the perpetrator of the unauthorised construction decided to file a lawsuit against me not in the area north of Naples where I work but in the court of Arezzo, because my portal’s web-hosting server Aruba is based there. This forced me to bear higher legal costs because my lawyers had to ask for help from lawyers in Arezzo.
As I said, my total extraneousness to the disputed facts emerged in this and many other judicial proceedings, but at the price of great effort and with detrimental psychological and financial repercussions.
I am a journalist with job insecurity and without a contract who has always had to pay for legal assistance myself. My portal has no income to allow me to face all these expenses with peace of mind.
I’m 48 with a 3 year old child and another child on the way. Following the insults and threats I received, I have had to make formal complaints about family members of criminals and members of organized crime in the areas in which I work.
In recent times I have thought several times of throwing in the towel due to the excessive risks, the many costs and the few satisfactions that I sometimes get with some acknowledgment of esteem from the investigating magistrates, members of the police forces and some readers. So far, my desire to report has prevailed over the bitterness I have accumulated. But continuing costs me a lot, both in terms of personal serenity and financially.
Therefore, I sincerely thank Ossigeno per l’Informazione, its president, all the members of the Observatory and the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro for the appreciation they have shown for my problems and for having granted me a cash gratuity to partially cover the legal expenses that I have incurred over the past seven to eight years.
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