What to do if a news article looks like a conspiracy

Ossigeno’s comment regarding the dismissal of charges against journalists who in 2011 reported a malfunctioning of the Syracuse Public Prosecutor’s Office

It was long overdue this decision of the judge for the preliminary investigations of Messina to dismiss the trial that saw the suspects, four journalists of Catania and Syracuse – among which Franco Oddo, director of the “Civetta di Minerva” – forced to defend themselves from serious and shameful accusations for eight years (see here).

The dismissal was expected and it finally arrived and said in no uncertain terms that those journalists acted honestly denouncing for the first time a mass of suspicions and irregularities that weighed on the Syracuse Public Prosecutor and on the relations between magistrates and some criminal lawyers.

These journalists, whose correctness is attested today, published in 2011in their local magazines some courageous and well-documented articles that caused a great sensation and scandal. What they had written cast shadows on how justice was administered in Syracusa.

These concerns were shared by numerous city associations that sided with the fortnightly citizen newspaper which raised the issue. Even Ossigeno per l’Informazione took a stand in favour of those journalists. From the perspective of the prosecutor the reactions were very heated, even at the judicial level.

It took many years, it took a lot of effort, and considerable legal costs had to be incurred before a judge recognized the correctness of those journalists and the fact that with their newspapers in 2011 they honestly exercised that function, typical of journalism, of controlling power and institutions.

Of course, all’s well that ends well. We welcome the conclusion of this trial. And we ask some questions. (If some are repetitious we apologize. It is not our fault that years later even such serious problems remain unresolved).

Is it normal that in Italy the journalist who reveals uncomfortable and unpleasant truths, should suffer such a long and costly procedure and such grave and humiliating accusations before he/she is recognized to have acted correctly?

Would magistrates, investigators, other actors operating in the public interest suffer the same frustrating treatment if they were not protected by appropriate prerogatives?

Why don’t we begin to protect journalists with concrete measures:

1) by systematically applying the deterrent measures already provided for those who abuse justice?

2) approving other anti-abuse measures that have been discussed for some considerable time?

3) discussing the proposals of the national antiMafia prosecutor Cafiero De Raho (see here) that would implement recommendations coming from the Council of Europe and the United Nations?

The “Syracusa case” helps to raise these issues.

Meanwhile, we honour these courageous journalists who, having heard, as it was known, that in the city of Archimedes (= Syracuse) the scales of the blindfolded goddess did not fluctuate in the proper way, they raised the alarm. Honour also to those who, like Carmelo Maiorca, emphasized the alarm with the sharp point of satire, with that cartoon that shows a man while he uses the blindfolded goddess in the way dogs use walls and other inanimate objects for their needs. For having published that harmless cartoon Carmelo Maiorca was on trial for seven years before being acquitted, while other events, other judicial inquiries confirmed in whole or in part that his colleagues at the “Civetta” and the “Magma” magazine had seen events correctly and there were those who had done much worse to the lady with the scales in her hand.

ASP (wt)

READ also The trial of 4 journalists accused of plotting against the Syracuse prosecutor’s office was filed after 8 years

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