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What is going on in Italy – Safety Net Ossigeno – June 13th – 19th, 2014

The twentieth of the 48 weekly reports created with the support of the European Union and distributed in eleven countries to promote a common understanding

Safety Net Ossigeno – Weekly Report June 13th – 19th, 2014
What happened in Italy: threatened journalists and obscured news 

A book was withdrawn from the book stores in order to avoid a citation for damage. It reconstructed the events of the main financial Italian telephone company. If it had not been withdrawn, the publisher would have sued in the order of ten million euros and, before the judge could determine the merits of the request, the publishing company would have had to enter that amount in its financial plan as a potential liability, with unsustainable consequences. The story was reported by the media as something normal. Ossigeno has reported the case to highlight the enormity of the consequences of the rules on libel in force in Italy, and how these weigh even on a simple partisan request.

The essay Good Bye Telecom by Matteo MaurizioDècina has been published by Castelvecchi-Lit in November 2013. It was withdrawn from the shops on May 20th. It was announced with a minimum statement. In January, the financier Marco Tronchetti Provera, considering vilified by the reconstruction of his role in the events of the telephone company Telecom, had called for the withdrawal of the book from the market by announcing that if his request was not granted he would have filed a lawsuit for damages for €10 million.

PRIVACY AND NEWS – On June 10th, in Liguria, four photographers who were taking pictures from distance of the birthday party of theson of Pier Silvio Berlusconi, son of Silvio Berlusconi, were summoned to the police station. The festival was being held in a public space, on the beach of Paraggi, between Santa MargheritaLigure and Portofino (near Genoa).

At the police station, the photographers have been formally identified and learned that Pier Silvio Berlusconi had filed a harassment complaint against the photographers, who on another occasion had already obtained some footage. The photojournalists have invoked the right to photograph well-known personalities when they are in a public place. The trade unions of journalists have protested the detention, and denounced an interference with the freedom of the press.

COMPLAINTS – The entrepreneur and environmentalist Mr David Melfa, who has been complaining for some time about the pollution caused by the refinery of Gela (near Caltanissetta), was sued by the directors of the ENI plant, who asked him €1 million in compensation for defamation and injury to the image, and for having used threatening and insulting expressions. Previously Melfa had asked €5 million of damages to the refinery.

The Mayor of Verona,FlavioTosi, has instructed his lawyers “to denounce for libel Mr Francesco Belsito, former cashier of the Northern League, the publishing group L’Espresso and all those who, investigators or not, have enabled the dissemination of defamatory news, without a shred of evidence” against him. On June 13th, the weekly L’Espresso had reported that the Milan prosecutors investigating for more than a year on a racket of alleged bribes, for a total of €10 million, including some big companies and the Northern League, assumed the involvement of the mayor. Other newspapers picked up the news.

LEGAL ACTIONS–The CEO of ANAS, the company that manages the Italian road network, on June 16th reacted to statements by the entrepreneur PiergiorgioBaita, and announced a legal action. Mr Baitawas the former number one of the Mantovanicompany. He was arrested in connection with the judicial inquiry on bribes paid around the MOSE system of mobile barriers in Venice. On June 12th, Baita gave an interview to L’Espresso. ANAS has sued Baita, L’Espresso and five other newspapers who have taken up the content of the interview.

Even the former president of the Council of Ministers Enrico Letta, as well as other politicians (NiccoloGhedini, RenatoBrunetta and Gianni Letta), have sued the newspapers that have approached their names tothe MOSE investigation.

The journalist Marco Milioniwrote an open letter to Ossigenoin which he reports once again the difficulties that journalists face to tell what is happening in the area. Mr Milioni, together with the managing editorofVicenzaPiùMr GiovanniCoviello, was sentenced to pay a fine of 800 euros by the Court of Trento for the crime of libel following a complaint by a judge of Vicenza, Mr PaoloPecori, who felt offended by the content of an article published on January 28th, 2011 in which Milioni repeated what had already been released four days earlier on ilfattoquotidiano.it.

ARCHIVING – The Court of Agrigento has archived a lawsuit for libel filed by the former mayor of Agrigento, the Senator CalogeroSodano, against the journalist LelioCastaldo, director of Sicilia24h.it, following the lawsuit.

COMMENT – It’s no news that the calls to order made to our country by international institutions and organizations have fallen into a void. Nevertheless, it is incredible that in Italy the problems of information and restrictions on freedom of the press are not perceived as urgent issues to be addressed neither by the government nor by civil society. OssigenoperL’Informazione has once again expressed his concern for the lack of response to the severe remarks made between the 8th and 10th June by representatives of the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, who have asked the Italian authorities for the rules on defamation to reach European legal standards and allow for a wider circulation of news.

The forbidden book.€10 million to continue sell it
Good Bye Telecom criticized the management of Tronchetti Provera, who then convinced the author and publisher to withdraw it to avoid a very exorbitant compensation claim.
It is instructive to reconstruct the short story of the book Good Bye Telecom, written by Maurizio MatteoDècina, published by Castelvecchi-Lit and now lent to friends by the lucky owners of the copies already sold. (continua a leggere in italiano)

The forbidden book. What was the issue at hand
The argument put forward in the volume withdrawn from the book shelves following an injunction. Who is the author? Who is Tronchetti Provera? What do the small shareholders of Telecom say?
When he published his book Good Bye Telecom, withdrawn from the market after five months, Maurizio MatteoDècina was the vice president of Asati, the association of small shareholders of Telecom. (continua a leggere in italiano)

The forbidden book.If the offer can’t be refused. The Comment.
The story that ended with the withdrawal from the market of the book Good Bye Telecom raises some concerns and some questions.
Could the author, Matteo MaurizioDècina,and the publisher,Castelvecchi, oppose the request to suspend the sale of the book Good Bye Telecom without being forced to close shop and before a judge could consider the matter in dispute and agree with them? (continua a leggere in italiano)

Liguria. Summoned to the police station for beach party photo
The four photojournalists were taking pictures from far away of the party of the nephew of Silvio Berlusconi. Protests by UNCI and Ligurian Association of Journalists.
The Ligurian Reporters Group “Alfredo Provenzali” and the LigurianAssociation of Journalists protested, in a statement, against the intervention of the police that for a few days have stopped and called to the police station for identification four photojournalists who took pictures from a distance of the party for the birthday of the nephew of Silvio Berlusconi (son of Piersilvio Berlusconi and the presenter Silvia Toffanin) that took place on the beach in Portofino (near Genoa). (continua a leggere in italiano)

Photographer stopped for harassment. “So you create a precedent”
“They asked me for the photos. I refused, but then I gave them over. Are preventive complaints conceivable? From now on, will we have to ask permission?”
“Our freedom of expression has been limited. This situation can create a terrible precedent. Henceforth public figures may submit a prior complaint against us photographers. Will we have to ask permission to do our job?” Says to OssigenoMr Fabio Piumetti. (continua a leggere in italiano)

Gela. Battle of complaints on environmental pollution from refinery
An environmental association has asked €5 million in damages to ENI, which in turn asked for €1 million in damages to the entrepreneur that was supposed to manage it.
After he reported a few months ago with a post on Facebook about the pollution caused by the refinery of Gela (in the Caltanissetta province), the entrepreneur and environmentalist Mr David Melfa has been sued by the directors of the ENI plant, asking for €1 million in compensation for defamation and injury to the image. (continua a leggere in italiano)

Bribes. Mayor Tosi files lawsuit against L’Espressofor slander
The weekly reported that the Milan prosecutors investigating funding to the Northern League and the former treasurer of the party accused the mayor of Verona.
The Mayor of Verona, Mr Flavio Tosi, announced that he had instructed his lawyers to “denounce for slander Francesco Belsito, former cashier of the Northern League, the publishing group L’Espresso and all those who, investigators or not, have enabled the dissemination of slanderous news, without a shred of evidence against me”. (continua a leggere in italiano)

Mose bribes. Anas files lawsuit against Baita and six newspapers
The CEO of the company feels defamed by an interview with the former manager of the Mantovanicompanypublished on L’Espresso.
Mr PietroCiucci, CEO of ANAS, the company that manages the Italian road network, on June 16th announced a lawsuit againstPiergiorgioBaita, former manager of Mantovani, a company involved in the investigation on the bribes paid for the system of mobile barriers MOSE in Venice, for an interview with L’Espresso(continua a leggere in italiano)

MOSE investigation. Enrico Letta also files lawsuit
Even Enrico Letta, as NiccoloGhedini, Renato Brunetta and Gianni Letta, has sued the newspapers that have approached his name to the investigation on the bribes paid for contracts in the MOSE of Venice case. (continua a leggere in italiano)

Complaints. Marco Milioni, “Greater risks for us local reporters”
The journalist Marco Milioni in an open letter has recalled his legal problems and draws attention to the lack of protection forthe reporters away from the cities.
The reporter Marco Milioni wrote an open letter to Ossigeno to report once again the difficulties that journalists face when telling what is happening in a local area. (continua a leggere in italiano)

Defamation. Archived lawsuit against Sicilia24h.it
The lawsuit against the journalist LelioCastaldo, editor of Sicilia24h.it,was archived by the magistrate of the Court of Agrigento following the complaint of the former senator and mayor of Agrigento CalogeroSodano. (continua a leggere in italiano)

Defamation. Europe, the UN and the Italian silence. Comment
Why isn’t politics responding to the international calls of recent days? Why does the media not talk about it and there is no debate on such serious issues?
The two severe calls to adapt the rules on defamation to European legal standards and allow a wider circulation of news, which arrived between 8thand 10th June by representatives of the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, seem to have fallen on the deaf ears of the Italian authorities. (continua a leggere in italiano)

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