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Molise: three slashed tires, and without apparent reason

Mario Lepore may have made enemies by writing about toxic wastes and dioxin in children’s milk. The police are investigating

Two tires were slashed on the night of Wednesday, October 31st, and a third 24 hours later. This happened to the Passat of the journalist from Venafro (IS) Mr. Mario Lepore. No message was sent to explain the gesture.

The area has recently been affected by the revelations of the pentito Carmine Schiavone, according to whom the Camorra for years has spilled and illegally buried all kinds of waste, including the most dangerous ones, in the region between Campania and western Molise.
Mr. Lepore, who lives and works in Venafro, has a keen sensitivity to environment and health issues, so much so that it was he who founded the local branch of the WWF. But the reasons for the intimidating gestures are likely to be found in his work as a journalist, having often covered environmental issues for important regional news outlets, including the newspaper Nuovo Molise Oggi and the online newspaper he founded, Molise24.

As Mr. Lepore told Ossigeno, “I have been recently following the case of an association of mothers who discovered substantial traces of dioxin in meat and milk from the farms in the area, and where the Public Supervisory Bodies had been hiding this fact. The association resorted to an accredited private laboratory for analysis at its own expense”. But this is only the latest in a series of topics covered that have attracted the attention of readers.

“I’ve always tried to tell the truth, trying to avoid being influenced. Someone may have wanted to send a signal. But I do not have the absolute certainty that it was an intimidation, since I received no clear message”.

“The second episode”, he continues, “took place on the night of Halloween. There have been other acts of vandalism that night in Venafro.” This, however, does not explain the gesture of the previous day. A typical situation that throws the reporter in a state of uncertainty that may lead to self-censorship as a form of cautionary response.

“Acts of vandalism, however, usually do not recur,” he says. “If it is an act of intimidation, I will know in the next few days because they certainly will have to deliver a message. But I’ll go on. I am thinking of setting up some security cameras. Meanwhile, the police are investigating”.

Mario explains that he is not the only one to write about these issues and for this reason he does not understand why he is the only one being hit. But this was not the first time for him to be the victim of intimidation. As early as 1993, as he says on Facebook, someone slashed the tires of his Mini Minor. And at that time too he was dealing with issues related to environmental pollution involving major local economic interests.

“I am glad of the interest of Ossigeno. These episodes are fed by the shadows, where the characters that perpetrate them try to operate in silence, avoiding the spotlight and hitting isolated people. It is therefore important that we speak”, the journalist concludes.

SOLIDARITY – Many statements of solidarity have been made: on top of the immediate communiqué by the Council of the National Federation of the Press, many local politicians and institutions, the Mayor of Venafro, the Regional Council, and the many friends who have personally encouraged him, recognizing his commitment to the territory, have joined in; and Ossigeno per l’Informazione too.

THE DATA – This is the second episode of intimidation against journalists in the Molise region that Ossigeno has registered since the beginning of 2013. As far as Ossigeno is aware, 11 cases occurred in the region since 2011. Overall, since 2006, 1’547 cases have been registered in Italy. The episodes in which property was damaged as a means of intimidation constitute 2.5% of all cases.

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