Shootout against a journalist near Naples

His car was riddled with bullets. De Michele remained unhurt and says: “I am afraid and I fear for my family”. He has already suffered other attacks

Mario De Michele, journalists, 47 y.o., suffered a full-scale ambush twenty kilometers from Naples. Two unidentified men chased him and shot to kill him. Six gunshots riddled the car he was travelling in. It is the most serious attack on a journalist since 2014 when journalist Lirio Abbate’s car was chased and rammed in the centre of Rome.

This incident says more than a thousand words how difficult and dangerous it is to do this job of journalism by reporting facts unappreciated by  criminals, businessmen and corrupt individuals. What happened says that in Campania it is riskier than elsewhere. In those areas where Camorra mobs are strong, a journalist still risks dying, killed because of his work.

Mario De Michele, chief editor of the online magazine, knows this very well. He reported himself the incident and described his state of mind, very stressed, confirming that he will go on, but confessing to be afraid. The Order of Journalists and other organizations in the category have asked for him to be protected and the authorities are taking measures.

THE FACT – Wednesday, November 14th 2019, while driving his car in a suburban area of ​​Gricignano d’Aversa, in the province of Caserta, near the US Navy’s base, Mario De Michele noticed that someone was following him. “I noticed a car following me. I was in an isolated area, at which point I turned around and tried to escape. It was then that a shower of bullets rained down on me.”  The Campanianotizie website describes how “two of these bullets passed through the car – at the level of the windscreen a few centimetres from the journalist. In De Michele’s attempt to escape, the criminals fired a further 3-4 shots that shattered the car’s rear window. Only by chance did he come out unscathed”. (read here) A bullet lodged itself in the headrest of the seat.

THE INVESTIGATIONS – The first investigations were carried out by the Carabinieri of Aversa and a company in Marcianise who examined the images recorded by the video surveillance cameras in the area of the ambush. The state prosecutor of Naples, Giovanni Melillo, collected statements from Mario De Michele. Then the investigations were entrusted to the District Anti-Mafia Directorate (DDA) of Naples.

THE JOURNALIST’S COMMENT “Am I okay? Not very much but am I going on? Of course, but I am afraid and feel guilty about my family. I will always fight for this area to become ‘normal’ and I will never lose my trust in the State,” the journalist wrote in an editorial in which he expresses serious concern for himself and for his family members and his reliance upon the protection of law enforcement and the solidarity of his colleagues. (read here)

OTHER INTIMIDATIONS – On Monday, November 11th three days before the gun attack, De Michele had reported another serious intimidation. The following day he described it in his newspaper: “Two thugs on a motorcycle with masked faces blocked my way while I was traveling in my car,” says De Michele. They forced him to stop; one of them walloped him and shouted: “Because of you the Orta City Council has been dissolved. You’ve messed us up. Now stop writing about the sports ground of Succivo” Meanwhile, the other individual repeatedly hit the car body with a club. (read here)

HIS ARTICLES – As described by Il Mattino, the municipal council of Orta di Atella was dissolved on November 6th with a central government decree due, its statement reads, “as a result of conditions found to be imposed by local criminal organizations”  through Mafia infiltration and murky activities in the urban planning sector. (see here)

De Michele has long been writing articles on the obscure background of a large building project carried out in Orta di Atella in previous years and describes the links among politicians, organized crime and entrepreneurs. He has dedicated numerous articles to the tender for the management of the sports field of Succivo, a town with eight thousand inhabitants contiguous with Gricignano. Between May and September 2018, the journalist suffered four intimidations; among other things he had received an anonymous letter containing bullets. At the time Ossigeno recorded those events. (read here) Precisely on the occasion of the letter with the bullets, De Michele had told Ossigeno: “In my articles I mentioned names and surnames, I published memoranda, chamber of commerce records, documented facts and the circumstances concerning administrators and former administrators and entrepreneurs who have conducted business with the Municipality of Orta di Atella and with the development of an area  completely without planning permission into which the judiciary opened an investigation in 2004.”

SOLIDARITY – De Michele has received numerous expressions of solidarity from colleagues and representatives of the sector. They included Ossigeno, Fnsi (the National Federation of the Italian Press) and the Journalists’ unions of Campania who asked the judiciary to “investigate every avenue”. In a joint statement, Carlo Verna, president of the National Order of Journalists and Ottavio Lucarelli, president of the Campania Order of Journalists , asked for protection for the journalist, saying it was important that De Michele was not left isolated. Extensive expressions of solidarity also came from the world of politics: the president of the Lower House, Roberto Fico, the undersecretary to the prime minister with responsibility for information and publishing, Andrea Martella, the Antimafia Commission, and the Democratic Party parliamentarian, Paolo Siani, brother of the journalist Giancarlo, killed in Naples because of his work.

RDM /wt

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