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Defamation. Why Zonin want a million from Vicenzapiù

The newspaper criticized his handling of the Roi Foundation and a 26-million-euro investment in his former bank. The comment by Ossigeno

The lawsuit filed with the Civil Court of Vicenza by the president of the Roi Foundation, Gianni Zonin, against the chief editor of the dailies Vicenzapiù and Vicenzapiù.com , Giovanni Coviello, with a request for compensation of one million euro for image damage was postponed to September 27, 2018.

Zonin is accusing Coviello of having deliberately damaged the image and decorum of the Foundation by publishing, between 4 and 14 March 2016, a series of articles in which the management is criticized and negative judgments were advanced on the purchase of a property, which once hosted the former city cinema “Corso”, and on an investment of 26 million euros. The investment was made by the Foundation – between 2009 and 2015 – in shares of Banca Popolare di Vicenza, which has lost 90 percent of the value.

This information, according to Zonin, would be false and expressed in a defamatory formulation. Coviello defended himself claiming to have properly exercised his right to report on matters of great public interest.

Gianni Zonin is a public figure, who has been for some time under the spotlight. For almost twenty years, until 2015, he was the president of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza. To this charge, since 2009 he has added that of president of the Roi Foundation, founded in 1988, which has as its stated goal the protection and promotion of the historical and artistic heritage of Vicenza.

“I am calm and I want to go all the way, even if this trial is expensive. I want to clarify this complicated affair of which the Roi Foundation is only the tip of the iceberg”, Giovanni Coviello told Ossigeno after the first hearing, which was held on October 25, 2016. Months ago, interviewed by Radio Padania (audio), Coviello has ironically thanked his accuser: “Zonin, thank you for allowing us, by accusing us, to access the documents of the Roi Foundation”.

OSSIGENO’S COMMENT – The story is really complicated, but the work by Coviello and his newspaper appears correct and Ossigeno per l’Informazione hopes that the Foundation that accuses him will recognize so as soon as possible, establishing the dialectical relationship, in the mutual interest, which should exist between the press, readers, traders, and politicians. Coviello is a journalist who does his job. He has disseminated information of legitimate public interest and expressed opinions, exercising the right of criticism, judging the facts and updating the information step by step as was possible to focus better on the facts and gain more reliable data. To Ossigeno per l’Informazione it seems equally clear that the choice to react to Vicenzapiù’s items with a claim for damages has the effect of compressing the freedom of expression. It would have been easier, quicker and more effective – according to Ossigeno – repair the alleged image damage, due to the spread of data at times imprecise, calling for the publication of clarifications and adjustments. It is necessary to understand how and why, without providing elements that attest it, the Foundation deems damages of such great value that, regardless of the actual intentions, strongly influences the finances of the accused newspaper, imposing a heavy fiscal constraint and causing very costly legal fees, being these commensurate to the value of the case.

The BACKGROUND – On behalf of the Roi Foundation, Gianni Zonin has also initiated other libel suits for the same issues, the most significant of which was filed against Ms. Barbara Ceschi, grand daughter of the Marquis Giuseppe Roi, which set fire to the keg with a sensational statements on March 5, 2016, during the shareholders meeting of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza, reporting facts and circumstances that would prove “malpractices” in the management of the Foundation.


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