When reciprocal accusations are combined together in one trial and all are acquitted

Reflections on the criminal trial of the journalist Marilù Mastrogioavanni. Combining is legitimate but in some cases it is inappropriate and incomprehensible

OSSIGENO – May 6th  2021 – The particular aspect of the criminal trial in which Marilù Mastrogiovanni was tried and acquitted of charges of aggravated defamation  (read here ) that summons  a reflection is this: together with her, the Court of Lecce simultaneously tried the people accused of having threatened and offended her.

The reasons of procedural economy invoked to assess the entire situation in a single context, in the dispute between the parties, were well founded. It was difficult to separate the positions.

Whilst this procedural choice is permitted in cases like this, however, it appears inappropriate for a journalist who has been subjected to threatening and intimidating abuse since it makes diametrically opposed behaviours appear on the same level, relating to unconnected events.

The ruling of a joint trial makes it more difficult for citizens to discern the sense of justice of the final decisions if the judgement as happened in this case, absolves everyone.

The verdict appears like the judgement of Pontius Pilate to a public that is not familiar with the reasons of procedural economy, to a public in the name of whom justice is administered, since this arrangement method makes it difficult to clearly distinguish and separate the individual alleged responsibilities.

If both sides are acquitted, even if this is not exactly the case, one gets the impression that it was a waste of time for the justice system to rule on a dispute such as the one brought before the courts. This is not good for justice. We trust that when the reasons for the judgement are released that they will clarify the different procedural positions.

It is impossible to predict how the trial would have ended if it had been held separately for the accused adversaries of the journalist. We are left with the impression that it would have ended differently.

As far as Ossigeno per l’Informazione is concerned, it is  proud to have formed a civil party in this trial, with the support of Media Defence, believing that it was necessary to stand by  Marilù Mastrogiovanni as the wrongdoing and threats intended  to hinder the work of investigative journalism with which she revealed connections between local politics and organized crime, have damaged not only her person, but also the freedom of information, a public good  that Ossigeno is committed as a statutory task to defending. ASP

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