Legal assistance. Video reporter sued by Rome police acquitted after 3 years

He was stopped and taken to a police station for refusing to erase the footage. Accused of disturbing a public service. Defended in court by Ossigeno

OSSIGENO April 21th 2022 – by Oreste Vighi – On March 28th 2022 the freelance journalist Cosimo Caridi was acquitted by the Rome General Prosecutor Doctor Arturi who issued a ruling for the case’s dismissal. In 2019 Caridi had been accused of interrupting public service by officers of the municipal police of Rome because he had filmed them intervening in a public order incident and had refused to erase the images he had recorded. The video reporter received expression of solidarity both from numerous colleagues and from the professional journalist organisations. 

In the judicial proceedings he was defended by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro, on behalf of the Free Legal Aid Office of Ossigeno who supported the costs together with Media Defence.

Ossigeno and its lawyer express great satisfaction and underline the strategic importance of this case which highlights a problem that deserves more attention because sometimes, as this episode shows in a striking way, it is members of the police forces in charge of guaranteeing public order who intimidate journalists for their work. The reporting activity carried out by journalists is regarded as an undue interference. The Caridi case is not the only one to demonstrate this. Ossigeno, therefore, has promoted a code of conduct and the initiation of a dialogue between law enforcement agencies and organizations that protect freedom of information and the right to report. (Read here)

THE INCIDENT – On the 10th December 2019 Cosimo Caridi was in the centre of Rome, in via Minghetti. He had followed a protest demonstration by trade unions and as he walked away he noticed that some municipal police officers were attempting to stop a foreign street-seller who in an attempt to get away had fallen down. The reporter began to film the scene while keeping his distance. His presence with his video camera had annoyed the officers. One of them approached the journalist and covered the camera lens with his hands and asked Caridi to show him his identity document. Meanwhile, the other policemen who had completed the arrest of the street-seller arrived. The officers asked Caridi to immediately delete the video. The journalist refused, invoking the right to report. This irritated the officers who accused him of not knowing the relevant legislation.  “You are risking arrest,” they told him. One of the two officers told Cosimo Caridi that if he had been out of uniform “he would have smashed the camera over his head”. Then the two took him to the police station near the town hall where he was held for over two hours and the complaint against him was made official.

Ossigeno commented on the incident proposing yet again the need for meetings between policemen and journalists to make the knowledge of mutual rights and prerogatives more explicit. Ossigeno also suggested drawing a line under the incident with an apology avoiding reporting it to the judicial authorities.

ASP

READ ALSO:

Rome. You can’t film us. Police denounce a video reporter

Dec 13th 2019 – Cosimo Caridi was taken to a police station in Rome and charged with interrupting a public service. He will be legally assisted by Ossigeno.

Police and videoing: rules and fair play

21st Dec 2019 – Without authorisation from a magistrate, a police officer cannot ask a reporter to delete photos and videos. The case of Cosimo Caridi in Rome

Journalists and police. After Caridi other incidents

Jan 29th 2020 – New incidents confirm the need for a Code of Conduct to be developed through dialogue and discussion between reporters and police officers to avoid misunderstandings and incidents.

News on the activity of the Ossigeno Free Legal Aid Office

Who has obtained legal aid from Ossigeno

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