Cosentino quotes Saviano and the judge orders him to pay the costs
The Civil Court of Rome rejected the request made in 2012 by the former undersecretary who had asked for 500,000 euro in damages for an article
The writer and journalist Roberto Saviano and the former chief editor of La Repubblica, Ezio Mauro, will not have to compensate the former lawmaker and undersecretary Nicola Cosentino, who asked, in 2012, 500 thousand euro in damages for an article written by Saviano in the column “R2 – Il documento“, on April 27 of that year. The judge of the first section of the Civil Court of Rome rejected Cosentino’s request, who challenged the journalist of having approached his name to that of the Casalesi clan, ruling that the article is a “legitimate expression of the right to freedom of expression”. The former lawmaker will also have to pay about 30 thousand euro in legal fees: 11,472 to Saviano and 18,469 to the former chief editor of the L’Espresso publishing group. The news was reported on June 27, 2016 by the information portal FanPage.
In the article at the center of the court case, Saviano reported some passages from a letter written to Michele Zagaria, boss of the Casalesi clan of the Camorra, by his nephew, in which – using a coded message of which the journalist tried to give an interpretation – there is a reference to “uncle Nicola” who “from his dais has much appreciated and taken note of everything he heard.” For Saviano the reference might be, if antimafia allegations are confirmed, to Nicola Cosentino who at the time was sitting in Parliament (the dais). In the letter, moreover, it was also written that always “Uncle Nicola, being a connoisseur, says that certain wrong scripts will remain rotting in the drawer”, meaning – if the interpretation is correct – that there will be no laws that will hurt the clan’s business.
The court recognized in the judgment how the journalist put forward to the public “an interpretive key of the language used by the mafia and, without any ambiguity, clearly suggests that he is venturing into a hypothetical reconstruction”. Also, he recalls that “at the time of the publication of the article, Nicola Cosentino had been involved in several criminal cases.”
As such, the publication is a “lawful expression of the right of expression, and in particular of the so-called investigative journalism (…). The author has proposed to the reader a reconstructive hypotheses relating to events of great significance for the public interest, without ever exceeding the limits of a form of a countenanced expression.”