The MPS’ Bank case. Penal conviction of libel for a Tv reporter

Fined for supposing, according to a source, that a lawyer had accompanied the manager David Rossi to the Vatican bank

OSSIGENO 21st  July 2022 – On June 14th  2022 the Court of Turin (fourth criminal section) sentenced the correspondent of “Le Iene” tv programme,  Antonino Monteleone for aggravated defamation of the lawyer Michele Briamonte, former director of Banca Mps and managing partner of Studio Grande Stevens. The lawyer had sued Monteleone in relation to a 2017 episode of the television investigation into the death of David Rossi, head of communications at the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, found dead on the street which his office overlooked, after falling out of a  window .

The penal Court sentenced the correspondent  of Le Iene to a fine of 400 euro, to pay court costs and more 20 thousand euro to pay provisionally estimated compensation damages. This was announced by the defence counsel of Michele Briamonte.

In that episode of the pogramme, Monteleone had included some audio recorded statements according to which David Rossi had visited the Vatican bank IOR several times in Rome together with a person who was not clearly named but identifiable by some connotations. The lawyer Briamonte reacted by claiming to be identifiable as that person and declaring himself vilified by this.

According to the prosecution, Monteleone had artificially assembled the statements, secretly recorded, made by some interviewees, in order to create  a presentation of the facts that would be untruthful.

The lawyer Nicola Menardo of Studio Grande Stevens, who assisted the lawyer Michele Briamonte together with his colleague Stefania Nubile, commented on the sentence: “While waiting to read the reasons, it can be said that a certain method of providing information, which is not interested in the truth of the facts, but  prioritizes the scoop at any cost has been condemned ”.

MONTELEONE’S COMMENT – The correspondent of Le Iene  commented on the conviction on Facebook, claiming the right of journalists to collect direct information on events that are the subject of judicial attention, without merely reporting the content of the judicial documents. “I – he wrote – reported what I was told, during an interview at his law firm, by the lawyer Luca Goracci, until 2019 the lawyer of Antonella Tognazzi, widow of David Rossi …. I had no intention of attacking the lawyer. My only purpose was, and remains, to urge the authorities to investigate – Monteleone said -. (…) I trust in the appeal judgment. And if I do not see my reasons recognized in the appeal court, we will go on to the Supreme Court. (…) The decision of the Court devastates me. Because I would do that report just as it is another 100 times and if my way of doing this job conflicts with the criminal law, well I have to reconsider everything, absolutely everything! “.

COMMENT OF OSSIGENO – Ossigeno believes that it is the right of journalists to communicate to readers and investigators useful pieces of information and additional leads for investigation, providing information, reconstructions and witness statements. About the death of David Rossi, after eight years, there are still some obscure points on which a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry is investigating. The right to information cannot be minimized. Ossigeno hopes that it will be taken into greater account in the subsequent judicial phases and that it will be possible to clarify better the facts involved in this trial. ASP

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