Defamation allegations, violation of privacy and professional secrecy: all the judicial proceedings that Edoardo Montolli had to face. An emblematic story
After the release of his book-investigation entitled Il Caso Genchi. Un Uomo in Balia dello Stato (The Genchi Case. A man at the mercy of the state) (Aliberti publisher), published in 2009, the journalist Edoardo Montolli was forced for seven years to defend himself before the courts by an avalanche of accusations of defamation, violation of privacy and official secrecy. In the end his battle ended with this budget: a defeat and six victories.
The defeat burns and also weighs economically: it concerns the conviction for libel on the complaint of the former prosecutor of Rome Nello Rossi. In 2016, the Court of Cassation has sentenced him and Gioacchino Genchi to a fine of 900 euros and a claim for damages of 20,000 euros each. But Montolli and Genchi consider the match not yet closed: they have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg and hope to be right. “The Italian judges have sanctioned my right to criticize. I think those in Strasbourg will agree with me. In other cases I limited myself to exposing the facts and the proceedings were closed with the archiving or the acquittal”, Montolli told Ossigeno.
In these other civil and criminal proceedings (see in detail) Montolli had to defend himself against accusations from members of law enforcement, magistrates, a lawyer, an MP, mentioned by him in the book. Some had asked for the volume to be withdrawn from the market.
In this long battle, one of the greatest difficulties was legal assistance, explains Montolli. At the beginning, he was defended by a lawyer chosen and paid by the publisher Aliberti. In 2013, the publisher declared bankruptcy and since then Montolli has had to defend himself at his expense, and was assisted by the lawyer Fabio Schembri. Another bitter note is the lack of solidarity received. Scarce has been the attention of colleagues: of the sentence (September 2016) and other legal events of the book, Montolli explains, only Il Fatto Quotidiano and Radio Padania have said something about it.
The book reconstructs the investigations of the deputy commissioner Gioacchino Genchi, former IT consultant of various prosecutor’s offices, specialized in the analysis of telephone records and accused in January 2009 of having illegally intercepted 350 thousand people (accusation from which he will then be acquitted).
Ossigeno reports this affair because, despite the definitive condemnation – which is not intended to be minimized, as it highlights the essentiality in journalistic work of the deontologically correct behavior and the use of a non-tendentious and non-allusive exhibition of facts – it is emblematic of the condition of many journalists: called to face criminal and civil trials for doing nothing but their own work, they have to sustain considerable pressure, on a psychological and economic level, especially when they “do not have their backs covered” by a strong publisher, who provides them with legal protection, and when colleagues and institutions do not show their support.