Verona. To trial reporter sued by mayor’s spokesman
A regional councillor wrote on Facebook that Mr Roberto Bolis was paying a “favour” rent and the journalist reported the news on the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano
The journalist of fattoquotidiano.it, Mr Alessandro Madron was indicted for libel by the magistrate of the Court of Verona, Ms Isabella Cesari. Mr Roberto Bolis, spokesman for the mayor of Verona, Mr Flavio Tosi, and chief press officer of the City, sued Mr Madron.
For the same story, Mr Bolis had also sued the regional councillor Mr Stefano Valdegamberi, Mr Michele Croce, former president of AGEC (the agency for the management of municipal buildings of the City of Verona), and, for failure to control, the editor of fattoquotidiano.it, Mr Peter Gomez.
Although the prosecutor, Mr Francesco Rombaldoni, had asked for all the defendants’ files to be archived, Madron, Valdegamberi, and Croce have been indicted instead. Mr Gomez, on the other hand, came out of the investigation since, as the magistrate wrote in his order filed on April 15th, “the managing director of an online journal is not liable for the offense of failure to control, in pursuant to Art. 57 of the Penal Code”.
THE CHALLENGE – Mr Bolis feels defamed by news released by Mr Valdegamberi on his Facebook profile and shared by Mr Croce and Mr Madron in November 2012, in which it said that the press office chief had been living for years in an apartment owned by the AGEC in the historic city centre, and paying for it a lower monthly fee than market prices.
The news, as the inquiring magistrate wrote, was not true: Bolis did not pay a rent of 339 euros, as reported by the suspects, but one greater than 600.
Mr Madron, a collaborator of the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, admits to having reported an incorrect figure. As he explained to Ossigeno: “I acknowledge my mistake; and I did not properly verify the facts. Sometimes, in doing this job, it happens.”
However Mr Bolis, as the reporter adds, did not ask for any rectification on that article, and went instead immediately to file a lawsuit. Fortunately for him, and despite not being an employed journalist, Mr Madron enjoys nonetheless the legal protection of the newspaper.