Italy. Story of a local reporter convicted of defamation and assisted by Ossigeno

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He receive a financial contribution to support the appeal process costs – Sued for articles on the relationships between public administrators and defendants in a mafia trial

OSSIGENO 13th June 2024 – The Legal Desk of Ossigeno(read here), which operates in collaboration with Media Defence, has awarded a financial  contribution to the journalist Giampiero Carbone to contribute to his legal expenses for defending himself in an appeal trial for libel  in which he is defended by lawyers Anna Rossomando of Turin and Emiliano Bottazzi of Genoa. The journalist recounts the legal proceedings  story in this text, written expressly for Ossigeno.

 By Giampiero Carbone – I am 49 years old and  I live in Gavi (Alessandria). I have been a freelance journalist since 2003. I have been collaborating with local weeklies and newspapers in the Province of Alessandria for about twenty years and I have a blog, I sincerely thank Ossigeno per l’Informazione for having decided to support part of the legal costs that I am incurring alone to defend myself in a defamation lawsuit brought against me by a mayor in my area.

At the end of 2017 I was informed that the Genoa association, Casa della Legalità , for years at the forefront in the fight against organized crime in Liguria and lower Piedmont, had filed a brief with the court of Palmi (a town in Reggio Calabria) in view of the Alchemia trial, relating precisely to  the presence of the Calabrian ‘ndrine crime family in Liguria and in the province of Alessandria. In 2016, thanks to the so-called Alchemia operation, some notable bosses and people considered their contacts in the area of Novi Ligure north of Genoa  ended up in handcuffs and then in court.

An entrepreneur from Novi Ligure, in the arrest warrant, was defined as “a participant of the Raso-Gullace-Albanese gang” in the role of assistant  and “telephone operator” of Nino Gullace. Another local businesswoman, according to the investigators, was at the “complete disposition  of the interests of the  Gagliostro-Parrello  gang of  Palmi and was linked to another person considered “the de facto manager of businesses attributable to the criminal association” in the Serravalle Scrivia area .

The company in question had obtained contracts from numerous municipalities in the Novese area, around Novi Ligure, and also for the Terzo Valico dei Giovi, the high-capacity railway line under construction between Genoa and Tortona.

At first instance in Palmi the mafia frontmen were convicted of criminal association, but excluding article 416 bis, a more strict penal code. The appeal process is now underway in Reggio Calabria.

Based on the memoranda of the Genoa association, Casa della Legalità I published two articles on my blog. Both were inspired in particular by the wiretap evidence attached to the precautionary custody order that had led to the arrests in the  Alchemia  Operation.

The first article recalled what was reported in the memoranda; the works  awarded by the Municipality to a service company and the photos published on Facebook which portrayed the then deputy mayor together with the individuals  indicted and sentenced in Palmi. It was noted that, despite having a public office, she left the images up visible to everyone in which she was portrayed with a person on trial for mafia association.

The second article reported on the telephone intercept in which the other figurehead convicted in Palmi boasted of his acquaintances in the Municipality who would have favoured him in some way.

Subsequently I published the replies of the mayor and the deputy mayor and wrote that they were not under investigation. However, the two made formal complaints and I was sent to trial and sentenced to a 200 euro fine. Not only that; the Municipality was a civil party together with the plaintiffs and the judge ordered a total compensation of around 25 thousand euro in their favour. The judge, with a sentence of 142 pages no less, disputed almost nothing regarding the truthfulness of the facts but maintained  that I would have alluded  to the reader that the Municipality and its administrators at the time had colluded or connived with the two characters on trial and therefore with the ‘Ndrangheta criminal organisation.

In reality, as the Italian Supreme Court  established, it is a journalist’s right to indicate links between facts and people, between individuals  and individuals, with the sole, evident  prerequisite  that the “elements” on which such links are based are true and verified, as in this case. The assignments to the service company by the Municipality were there, there is an wiretap intercept in which a person accused of 416 bis (mafia collaboration) says he supports the then mayor and the deputy mayor portrayed on Facebook with a person on whom there is a similar accusation. With the lawyers Anna Rossomando of Turin and Emiliano Bottazzi of Genoa I presented the appeal and I am confident in a sentence that establishes the journalist’s right to inform citizens about these events. GC

Read news on other cases handled by the Ossigeno Legal Desk by Ossigeno by Ossigeno (read here)

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