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Puglia. Surrounded and threatened journalist calls for more protection

Since 2012 Mimmo Carrieri is under police protection. On July 5th, 2015 twenty people blocked him for 90 minutes and took away his camera and phone

“Today, after the assault I suffered on July 5th, 2015, I feel I am a moving target. They recognize me and attack me. The police protection that was assigned to me in 2012, after receiving several death threats, could no longer be enough”, Mimmo Carrieri, journalist from Puglia and active defender of the environment and the historical and artistic heritage of his region, told Oxygen. Carrieri, accounting technician in early retirement, is now in charge of the Environment and Ecology for the Association CPA (Hunting Fishing and Environment) and collaborates with the online newspaper Viv@voce. Ossigeno had already covered the Carrieri case in February 2015, when the former mayor of Sava (in the province of Taranto), was sentenced on appeal for insults against him. “From 2012, since I have been subject to dynamic surveillance – Mimmo recounts – the police pass by my house many times a day, especially at night, and every time I call them they rush. But now I fear that this is not enough anymore. I feel exposed to more risks and I want more protection for me and my family. My wife and I have fear. I am an idealist, I am convinced of the ideas for which I fight and I will not stop because someone threatens me.”

Ossigeno declares full solidarity to Mimmo Carrieri, and asks the Prefect of Taranto to check quickly and carefully his request to strengthen security measures and urges newspapers to publicize this story to readers.

THE AGGRESSION – Carrieri was attacked on Sunday, July 5th near the Ex Tonnara area, close to a Saracen tower on the southernmost coast of Apulia, between Campomarino di Maruggio and Torre Ovo, in the province of Taranto. From the top of the promontory he had taken some photographs to document the failure to respect the no parking and no camping areas below, which is subject to archaeological restrictions. Some of the people who were close to the campers parked there recognized him and drew the attention of others. In a short time, around him gathered a dozen people who insulted him and threatened him, criticizing him for wanting to prevent with his complaints their full enjoyment of that area.

“They surrounded me and prevented me to get away. They were all around me – the journalist explains – insulting me and shoving me. One of them filmed the scene with the phone and another was taking photographs. Some snatched from my hands the phone and the camera. It was terrible. It lasted 90 minutes. Then finally two boys arrived who stood up for me and convinced the people around me to walk away and let me go.”

Carrieri has been complaining for some time the havoc in that area near Torre Ovo that, in 2013, was seized by a court order and closed to the public following his complaints. “I reported that recreational fishermen, for their comfort, were passing trolleys-boat over a mosaic of the Roman-Greek era. Also someone had cemented the old slipway. The archaeological site was damaged by the passage of boats that scraped on the floor bed.” Later the area was released from seizure and signs were erected the prohibiting parking of caravans and cars, bathing and transit of boat trailers. Bans that have been blatantly ignored.

As he escaped the people around him, Carrieri called the police to the rescue, who reached him and identified several people. Then he filed a complaint for assault accusing his attackers to have caused him and his wife, who was waiting for him on the beach, “anxiety and insomnia”.

THE THREATS – Since he began to write articles on environmental protection and to denounce the abuses of his area, Mimmo Carrieri was the object of various acts of intimidation. In 2008 his boat was tampered with, then the two small boats were stolen, then his car caught fire, then a letter came to him with bullets inside.

Carrieri has always reported to the police the acts of intimidation and retaliation. Even in recent months, he says, he has been threatened. A few weeks before the attack he received an anonymous letter that ends with a threatening call (“it’s time to stop”). On the walls of the village, threatening words addressed to him stand out. Despite a request from the Prefecture, the City has not yet cleared the walls.

Two MEPs of the 5 Star Movement, Rosa D’Amati and Marco Zanni, have expressed solidarity with the journalist from Puglia and asked “the authorities to help Mimmo Carrieri to continue his battle for legality in every way and to assist him with any means, especially to preserve his safety”.

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