The exercise of the right to report was recognized by the Supreme Court. She had been sued by a magistrate for the phrases spoken in 2005 on the television programme “Who has seen it?”
It took three tiers of judgment and thirteen and a half years to absolve definitively a journalist and a television director, sued by a magistrate, from the accusation of defamation in print.
The journalist is Federica Sciarelli, well-known anchor-woman of the television programme “Chi l’ha visto” (Who has seen it?) (Rai3), and its director Giovanni Carbone.
Both were sued in 2005 by the magistrate Giuseppe Savoca. Found guilty in the first trial they were then acquitted on Appeal, in March 2017. The final judgement was reached on 29th November 2018 by the Court of Cassation which rejected the plaintiff’s appeal and ordered him to pay the court costs. The judges ruled that during the episode of Chi l’ha visto? the right to report was properly exercised.
The magistrate Savoca had reacted using legal means to the statements made by the journalist in the episode of the 4th July 2005. On that occasion, dealing with the murder of the doctor Matteo Bottari (the endoscopist killed in Messina in January 1998), Federica Sciarelli, commenting on a judicial ruling, had said: “Judge Savoca knows very well those who carried out the Bottari and those who sent them”.
The perpetrators and those behind them of the Bottari crime are still unknown to justice today.
In the trial proceedings a transcription came to light of the wire-tap of a three-way conversation between Savoca, the Syracuse businessman and the lawyer Arena in which the three, as stated in the sentence of the Cassation, speak of a matter of blood and make reference to the “sons of Bottari”.
The comment of the journalist arose from this interception. For the Court this was a statement justified precisely by the content of the conversation. The Cassation maintained also in contrast to what was contested in the complaint by the plaintiff, that the news was “subjected to adequate control”, acknowledging in the broadcast that the three protagonists of the conversation had denied the contents. In fact, the sentence states that the defendants “had exercised their right to legal reporting, even if it turned out not to be true”.