Migrants. The case against Raffaella Cosentino is dismissed

The freelance journalist of L’Espresso, defended by Ossigeno, had been sued for an article on financial enrichment in Calabria at the expense of refugees

The Rai journalist Raffaella Cosentino, a freelance contributor, in 2015, to the weekly magazine L’Espresso, was acquitted by the Judge for Preliminary Investigations in Rome, Claudio Carini, on charges of defaming in print Pasquale Poerio. Poerio is the legal representative of Quadrifoglio S.r.l., the company to whom Misericordia – the agency selected by the Prefecture for the management of the Reception Center of S. Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto – had given a sub-contract for the supply of meals to immigrants seeking asylum in the Centre itself.

Ossigeno per l’Informazione, thanks to funding from London NGO Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), decided in April 2016, when the offence of defamation was claimed, to bear the legal expenses necessary for the defence – supported by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro -, in the conviction that Raffaella Cosentino was the victim of a lawsuit not only unfounded, instrumental and pretentious, but even rash. In fact, the Public Prosecutor of Rome, Maurizio Arcuri, requested and obtained from the GIP the dismissal of the case for defamation.

The incident arose from an article signed by the journalist published in L’Espresso on October 2nd 2015 entitled “A Isola Capo Rizzuto migrant reception is a deal damaging both the State and human rights” in which it dealt with details and documents showing “inflated numbers, unjust profits, migrants forced to live in unacceptable conditions”. For these reasons, suspicions and investigations not only in the press but also in the judiciary have been focussed upon this Calabrian centre for asylum seekers. The judiciary in the period following the publication of the article in L’Espresso ordered the arrest and detention of 68 people, including Pasquale Poerio, confirming, in a certain sense, the rigour and professional correctness of Raffaella Cosentino in exposing, even before the legal authorities, the complex and serious events of the management of the reception centre.

The article published in L’Espresso had been the subject of complaint on December 22nd, 2015 by Pasquale Poerio because he alleged that it was full of falsehoods. In particular, the accuser of Raffaella Cosentino claimed that he possessed the necessary anti-Mafia certifications from the Prefecture, which in 2009 had expressed its “approval” by authorizing Quadrifoglio to access and provide services at the Reception Centre; that it was not true that the anti-Mafia certificate had been suspended; that it was not true that the provision of meals was over-invoiced and that the company he represented had never made illicit savings on the planned supply of food to asylum-seekers. Instead, the journalist had revealed that in the Centre were being given out-of-date food and in smaller quantities than those agreed upon.

We now know that what the 2015 journalist wrote was entirely true and was confirmed by the Court of Rome. Moreover, after the publication of the article, Pasquale Poerio was arrested for the same practices that had been revealed by the investigation of Raffaella Cosentino for L’Espresso.

Ossigeno expresses great satisfaction for the outcome of the trial of Cosentino whom it assisted.

RED (wt)

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