Sicily. Judge dismisses mayor’s lawsuit for libel against 2 reporters

They did not defame the mayor for having linked his name to that of an arrested administrator who had been appointed by him

OSSIGENO December 20th 2022 – “The journalist cannot be denied the right to seek and report to the reader links and relationships, direct or indirect, when these elements objectively exist”, wrote the public prosecutor Brunella Sardoni, requesting the dismissal of the lawsuit. On the 21st July 2022, the judge for the preliminary investigation (GIP) of the Trapani court, Samuele Corso, accepted the request and ordered the dismissal. The lawsuit for libel was filed in January 2021 by the mayor of Trapani, Giacomo Tranchida, against the blogger Natale Salvo and the journalist Aldo Virzì.

The mayor did not appreciate the criticisms expressed in December 2020 by Natale Salvo on his blog ‘Ideas and Commitment’ and by Aldo Virzì on the online site ‘Tvio’, which he edited. In those articles they had commented on the arrest of Salvatore Barone, sole director and president of ATM, the company that manages the local public transport service.
Salvatore Barone, released shortly afterwards from prison had been appointed to that position by the mayor who considered the juxtaposition of his name to that of the arrested person and that of a mafia individual mentioned in the articles and with whom Barone himself was allegedly linked to be defamatory, (read Ossigeno).

For the preliminary investigating judge, the two accused respected the criteria of truth, public interest and relevance in language, even if expressed in “harsh, sarcastic and polemical tones”.

THE BLOGGER – Natale Salvo, to whom Ossigeno granted a gratuity in relation to a similar affair to help him bear the legal costs, and who has received other intimidations and lawsuits (see here), commented: “Yet another dismissal/acquittal, I believe the fifteenth, and yet another Pyrrhic victory. The serial plaintiff politician never answers for expenses, worries and lost time. Until when?” Aldo Virzì has not commented.

OSSIGENO is pleased with the favorable outcome of the proceedings against the blogger and the journaredalist and shares the words of Natale Salvo. The specious lawsuits show no sign of diminishing and those of politicians and public administrators are the most repugnant, as our observatory records year after year. For some time, Ossigeno has been calling for urgent legislative action to block this intimidating use of justice or at least to limit it, making it onerous for the plaintiff to promote baseless lawsuits conducted only to stop the work of journalists and to muzzle them. Even the recent UNESCO study published by Ossigeno on the 9th December 2022 (read here) has shown that these trials are the result of an “incorrect use of justice” which governments and parliaments of individual countries should remedy. LT

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