The journalist of the “Il Fatto Quotidiano” had been insulted by Calogero Mannino for an article in which he reported his conversation.
The Rome Appeal Court sentenced former minister Calogero Mannino to pay damages of 30,000 euro in favour of Sandra Amurri, a journalist of Il Fatto Quotidiano, as well as the reimbursement of the legal costs, in a double ruling. The journalist was defended, on appeal, by lawyers Martino Umberto Chiocci and Alessandra Flamminii Minuto.
The former minister had used insulting words against the journalist after the publication, in March 2012, of one of her articles in which she recounted the content of a conversation between Mannino and the Hon. Giuseppe Gargani which she had accidentally overheard outside a famous pastry shop in the centre of Rome. During the conversation Mannino invited Gargani to contact De Mita because “we must all give the same version” otherwise “this time they’ll fuck us. In December 2011, when Amurri heard that conversation between the two politicians, it was not known that Calogero Mannino was under investigation for a threat to the political body of the State (he was later acquitted of that accusation, in the first and second degree, for “not having committed the offence”). Nor was it known that De Mita had been interrogated by magistrates. Amurri published the article only when, some time later, the news came out and the journalist was able to understand and contextualize what she had heard.
The politician reacted violently in the press and on television to the publication, defining the article of Amurri as the “delirium of a mythomaniac”, the “provocation of a spy on duty”, an “organized lie”, the result of “an excited imagination “.
The journalist, feeling unjustly defamed, had sued the former minister, but the civil court had blamed her, defining the politician’s insults as a “legitimate exercise of the right to criticize”, and as an appropriate “reaction”, justified by the journalist having “illegally eavesdropped” a private conversation.
The Appeal Court, however, has now overturned that sentence, explaining that “the conversation was neither eavesdropped nor illegally picked up, since it took place in a public, open place”, and the journalist was certainly not obliged to leave in order not to listen to the conversation, as Calogero Mannino claimed. Regarding the exercise of the right to criticize, the Appeal Court explained that “the offensive expressions [used by Mannino, ed] are not supported by the assumption of truth, neither putative nor limited to its most essential element, since Mannino, although not having denied that the interview actually took place, has never provided an alternative reconstruction to that contained in the Amurri article, limiting himself to accusing her of ‘mythomania’ and ‘espionage’ “.