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Boomerang trial in Verona for mayor who filed lawsuit against journalist

Flavio Tosi was in bad faith. Now he has to answer for slander and libel. Against Sigfrido Ranucci of the TV show Report used statements obtained with fraud

On 23 June 2016 the judge for the preliminary investigations of the Court of Verona has indicted the mayor of Verona, Flavio Tosi, on charges of slander and continued libel against the reporter for the RAI TV show Report, Mr Sigfrido Ranucci. The trial against the mayor will begin on November 23, 2016. Amongst the defendants there will also be the former Northern League member Sergio Borsato who, in a tacit agreement with the mayor, drew the journalist into a trap, letting him believe that they were in possession of a hard video which would have compromised the mayor.

This glaring reversal of the parties was reached in two stages. A decisive moment was the hearing on 8 February 2016, in which the magistrate of the Court of Verona (read more) decided for the compulsory accusation of Tosi, having ascertained that in February of 2014, when he sued the journalist who was gathering information in an inquiry into the management of public procurement contracts in the town, had acted in bad faith. The mayor accused Ranucci of libel for the content of an investigation that had not yet been aired. The report on the management of municipal contracts was in fact broadcast on the next April 7th and Ossigeno, among others, commented that Tosi claimed to introduce a new form of lawsuit: the preventive lawsuit. The story would have ended with no procedural consequences for the mayor if the journalist had not fought back, denouncing him for slander and libel offenses. In fact, in October 2014 the court had closed the case by sending the Tosi lawsuit to the archives.

Sergio Borsato met the journalist while he was looking for information for his investigation and recorded the conversations surreptitiously. Those recordings were attached to the complaint that Tosi presented before the airing of the video. In its order of February 2016 the judge pointed out that, in the lawsuit the mayor did not say that Borsato was a “double crossing”. Neither did he say so during the press conference organized to publicize the lawsuit.

Before the preliminary hearing of 23 June, the Tosi lawyers had proposed to the Ranucci’s legal, Mr Luca Tirapelle, to close the game with an economic agreement. “I asked my client to evaluate the hypothesis – the lawyer told the journalist – and he decided to reject it based on the high value he attaches to his profession”.

On February 8, 2016, the magistrate of Verona, at the same time of the compulsory accusation of Tosi, had ordered the filing of seven proceedings for defamation arising from complaints by the mayor and other persons named in the same investigation.

The court recognized that the journalists of the RAI3 show with their inquiry challenged by the mayor of Verona have respected the canons of ethics and jurisprudence, the truth of the facts and countenance of language.

During some television shows, Tosi has insulted Ranucci and the other journalists of Report calling them “shits” and accusing them of making “trash journalism”. So on May 20, 2014 Ranucci and Report have presented the lawsuit for which he will be tried in November.

RDM

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