Legal Aid: Giulia Cerino and the barrister Di Pietro speak

Why has the journalist sued for defamation asked Ossigeno for legal aid? The co-ordinator of the legal service puts the case in context

The defendant: – Giulia Cerino explained, “My reportage was broadcast in 2015 in the television programme AnnoUno produced by Zerostudios. Two years after the broadcast I was sued and found myself having to meet the associated legal costs because of the refusal of the production company to bear them. Hence I turned to Ossigeno per l’informazione. I am grateful that my request has been accepted. I have resolved a problem which deeply troubled me. The refusal of the producers of AnnoUno surprised me. I had previously received another complaint for another reportage broadcast by AnnoUno and in that case the publisher behaved well, it had supported me and it bore the legal and trial costs. I think that what was influential was that I no longer worked for AnnoUno but for another publisher when they informed me that I would not have legal protection. I have grounds for believing that the decision not to bear the costs of this lawsuit was for other reasons and in particular due to the fact that the programme AnnoUno was no longer being broadcast having ended in May 2015”.

The Lawyer: – The barrister Andrea Di Pietro, co-ordinator of the Legal Aid Office of Ossigeno explained, “In the first place we analysed the narrative language of the facts and saw that the reportage gathered and presented comments on an event which was of undoubted public interest and had been treated as emblematic and exemplary of issues over which there was a public debate. There was in fact underway for some time a discussion to assess whether the current sentencing criteria to punish those responsible for fatal road accidents were adequate. This debate ended in 2016 with legislative changes to the criteria.

The focus of Giulia Cerino’s reportage was exactly on this problem.

The plaintiff was cited as the driver of the car only to put into context the facts to be commented upon and was identifiable only by persons who already knew the incident. During the broadcast, the interviewer and those interviewed used only the first name, never the surname and neither his face nor other elements clearly able to identify him were shown”.