Right to remember. Weekly publishes old cover, and gets sued
An entrepreneur felt defamed because the magazine revived pictures of his arrest in 1999, although he was later cleared of all charges
The entrepreneur and former city councillor, Mr Giovanni Ventrella, announced that he instructed his lawyers to sue the weekly Fax, a local newspaper of the province of Bari, for libel in a criminal court and, in a civil court, has asked for compensation damages of 100 thousand euros. The former commissioner for the public works of Putignano, in the province of Bari, felt vilified by the column “It was the year”, which republishes the first pages of the magazine since its year of birth, in 1999, when Mr Ventrella was also being arrested for usury and subsequently acquitted.
As the publisher of Fax, Mr Nicola Lorusso, explains “what we’re doing with our magazine is to revisit historically what we have told over fifteen years ago, and with a historiographical content. We took the old editions and we are reprinting the first pages without skipping any single one: we have not added nor removed anything. And in the number published three weeks ago, the first page had the arrest of Ventrella”.
Mr Ventrella explained to the online portal PutignanoWeb the reason for his lawsuit, arguing that “the law provides that next to the article being published, under the same conditions and sizes, the known news of my acquittal should have been presented”.
“I understand that it is not pleasant, but you cannot erase the memory of a newspaper, which in turn reflects the memory of the community”, the publisher explains. “At this point I think that a problem arises: whether past news may be used even if they’ve evolved over time” he adds.
“Before launching this column we specified in several opinion articles that the news was old. We did not expect to be sued for our choices of historical revival. We are mortified that this operation is read as some sort of evil intent against anyone” Mr Lorusso concluded.