The process began in 2008, when Silvio Berlusconi was prime minister. The Mediaset group had sued Concita De Gregorio and Travaglio for an article published in l’Unità, a daily no more published since years
OSSIGENO July 26, 2021 – On May 4, 2021, after 13 years of criminal trial, the journalists Concita De Gregorio and Marco Travaglio, sued by Mediaset and accused of defamation in the press, were acquitted by the Court of Appeal of Rome, which confirmed the first instance sentence pronounced on March 9, 2015. They were sued in 2008 by Mediaset, for an article published in the newspaper l’Unità on October 8, 2008, in the season in which Silvio Berlusconi was at the helm of the Government and the newspaper founded by Antonio Gramsci was the antagonist newspaper par excellence of that government.
THE ACCUSATIONS – Marco Travaglio was accused as the author of the article entitled “I’m sorry I confirm everything”, considered defamatory by the television group. Concita De Gregorio was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper (until 2011). In a first phase, both had been legally assisted at the expense of their publisher, in application of the corporate agreements that provided for it. Then the editorial group owner of the newspaper had entered a serious crisis which, in 2014, determined the arrangement with creditors, the liquidation of the company and subsequently the cessation of publications. Consequently, the publisher no longer provided legal assistance and Concita De Gregorio and Marco Travaglio, like numerous other journalists of that newspaper, had to defend themselves at their own expense in the still pending trials.
ORPHANS OF THE PUBLISHER – In view of this situation, in view of this appeal process, Concita De Gregorio requested and obtained the intervention of the Free Legal Assistance Office of Ossigeno, which operates with the support of the English NGO Media Defense. Ossigeno took up his defense in court, which was carried out by the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro. Marco Travaglio, on the other hand, was defended by the lawyer Giuseppe Macciotta.
THE PROCESS. Although fully acquitted in the first instance, Concita De Gregorio and Marco Travaglio, in the appeal process were still formally charged, respectively, with the crime of failure to control and defamation in the press against Mediaset. According to the plaintiffs, the crime of defamation was committed with the article by Marco Travaglio published on 8 October 2008, in “l’Unità” with the title “I’m sorry I confirm everything”. According to the accusatory statement, this article offended the reputation of Mediaset S.p.A. with the following statement: “(…) Mediaset would have hidden in the following years hundreds of billions of black funds on 64 offshore companies”.
The appeal process arose from Mediaset’s decision to appeal the Court’s decision to acquit the defendants, seven years after the facts. This second trial phase lasted more than three years, following a series of postponements and interlocutory hearings, first to await the decision of the Council on the issue relating to the constitutional illegitimacy of art. 576 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (exception which was rejected) according to which the civil party – who is normally the subject offended by the crime asking for damages – can challenge the judgments of acquittal of the accused only for civil purposes, then for the inevitable stop of the processes caused by the pandemic.
THE JOURNALIST – After learning that she was also acquitted in the appeal grade, Concita De Gregorio released the following statement: “I wish to thank “Ossigeno per l’Informazione” and the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro who assisted me for free in the long years during which the lawsuit that saw me as an adverse party to Mediaset for my role as director in charge of the “Unità” newspaper continued. Ossigeno’s role in contrasting reckless judicial actions is fundamental. These lawsuits are genuine economic intimidation of journalists. Ossigeno is an indispensable safeguard against freedom of the press and will remain so as long as there is no legislation in Italy capable of restoring to journalists, in deeds and not only in words, the freedom to exercise a control function over power. Ossigeno per l’Informazione is an important democratic bulwark. If there were no Ossigeno, the press and reporters would really be less free.