In the trial for defamation in printfor articles on the alleged presence of asbestos in the premises ofthe municipal transport company of La Spezia reported in 2016 by atrade unionist
Oxygen for the Information has accepted the request of the freelance journalist Gabriele Cocchi to be assisted by the Free Legal Aid Office of the Observatory (see here) in the criminal trial that he faces as a consequence of the lawsuit for libel that was presented by Renato Goretta, AD of ATC, the municipal company that manages the public transport service in the city of La Spezia. The allegedly incriminating articles of Cocchi denounced the presence of asbestos in the premises of thecompany, a matter of public interest highlighted by some statements of the trade unionist Luca Simoni, an ATC employee, whose statements had been enlarged upon during the criminal trial that had begun (and was then suspended) initiated by the managing director Goretta, who claimed that the articles accused him of negligent injury in respect of some ATC employees whom the doctors had diagnosed with “bilateral pleural thickening… compatible with pleural asbestosis “. Ossigeno read the articles, assessed the documents and believed that the journalist acted with professionalism and respect for the ethical rules, recounting the facts and commenting on them without exceeding the limits set by legislation on the subject of news and criticism.
In addition, Ossigeno considers this trial of strategic value in order to make it clear that sometimes in Italy there is an instrumental use of lawsuits for defamation, hitting the weakest link in the chain, the reporter , usually anunder paid freelance journalist, forcing him to sit in the dock. Often in Ossigeno’s professional training courses we advise young aspiring journalists to never be afraid of writing the truth of the facts because for a journalist to tell the truth is not just a right recognized by the law but is above all a duty towards the society. We refer to journalistic truth, normally defined as substantiation between the facts and their narration. In Ossigeno’s opinion,Gabriele Cocchi had suffered a rash complaint. The person who considered himself offended did not accept the criticism that he should have accepted for his prominent public role he played in this matter. He did not accept that Gabriele Cocchi simply described his conduct and that it had been commented upon critically even harshly by the reporter. This way of looking at things does not justify a libel accusation. Ossigeno, therefore, awaits confidently the chamber hearing scheduled for Friday, December 14th 2018 before the General Prosecutor of La Spezia.