The general prosecutor of La Spezia has dismissed the lawsuit by the former administrator of ATC against the journalist Gabriele Cocchi who was assisted by Ossigeno
The year has begun well for our legal aid service dedicated to journalists who are victims of reckless lawsuits. The Judge for the Preliminary Investigations of La Spezia Dr. Marinella Acerbi, after listening to the discussions of the lawyers in the courtroom has decided to set aside the lawsuit for defamation against our client Gabriele Cocchi, journalist of the on-line newspaper Gazzettadellaspezia.it, initiated by Renato Goretta, former managing director of ATC, the La Spezia municipal company which manages the public transport service. Today Goretta is vice president of the La Spezia branch of Confindustria, president of the small industry committee and managing director of Gesta Srl.
Cocchi wrote on his Facebook page: “I have to thank those who assisted me, the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro, who defended me on behalf of Ossigeno for Information, an association that deals with protecting freedom of the press, and the lawyer Sergio Busoni “. In fact a year ago the journalist turned to Ossigeno asking for legal aid to oppose what he considered an unjust lawsuit that exposed him not only to criminal sentencing but also to compensation for damages. Ossigeno accepted his request, believing that his two articles represented both a high level of professional correctness and public interest in knowing important facts about the health of ATC workers.
Renato Goretta had sued Gabriele Cocchi in October 2016 for two articles that the journalist had written on Gazzettadellaspezia.it about the controversies that arose between Cobas and the former managing director over the reported presence of asbestos in the premises of ATC, and the link with some diagnoses to harm employees through pleural thickening caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos dust.
The journalist underlined how the company had known for several months the presence of asbestos but without having communicated appropriately to the agencies responsible for the prevention of occupational risks.
Gabriele Cocchi continued his thanks to Ossigeno, writing that “The Goretta who has sued me, curiously, is the same that a few months ago on Facebook praised World Press Freedom Day as an issue certainly” not to be underestimated “.
By now the Judge has established that the two articles were not only of public interest, but respected the criteria of factual truth, of moderate expression and of the right to criticize and to report news. Besides the satisfaction with the recognition of having done his job well, however, there remains a strong regret for the serious concerns that the criminal case has brought with it. Concerns which persist in the journalist acquitted, as he himself says, leading to “the thousand doubts even on the most innocent piece written in the last two years”.
Ossigeno expresses great satisfaction for the favourable outcome of the trial and hopes that facts like this are taken as an example of how information in in Italy is often fatally impaired by reckless and instrumental legal actions which, without the support of associations like Ossigeno, risk every day, silently, to achieve the goal of switching off the light shone on the murkiest realities of society.